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Listening with Love

Almost all of my ideas come from other people; an off the cuff statement, a phrase taken out of context; a line in a book or a scene in a movie.

During a recent workshop, a participant was speaking of how to communicate during transformation, how to share the What, the Why, and the How of the transform. But a statement he made inspired this post. He said at the end of his reflection, "and of course one needs to listen with love".

There was a pause in the room as we all reflected on what that meant.

How to Listen With Love

These are my ideas, I truly hope you add yours in the comment section below

  • First is to give your full and undivided attention to the person you are listening to. Your attention is the most precious resource you have to give them. Give it all, the power of that attention is magnificent to the person being heard.

  • Keep good eye contact and use your body language (facial expressions, open posture leaning toward them and nod your encouragement as they speak)

  • Hold your silence, when they pause for breath or at the end of the sentence, you don't need to say anything, the silence can be your friend and permission for them to continue their speaking.

  • When they are silent, reflect on what it must be to be like them in this situation, try to see from their point of view.

  • As you listen, what kind of words are they using? What metaphors? How do each reflect their inner state? If they talk of an "avalanche of emotion", remember avalanches are un-predictable, unstoppable and dangerous. That will allow you to understand more fully how they feel about a situation

  • As you listen, what does their body language say? How does their demeanor confirm or undermine their words?

  • When you do speak, use their words, paraphrase or mirror back to them your understanding, "what I'm hearing you say is", "can I summarize my understanding to let me be sure I have this right?"

  • Ask open ended questions to draw them out further, help them speak to be heard

  • Remember your intention, to Listen. With. Love.

  • Take the time to give affirmation for the things they are doing right / things that are going well. Remember the goal is progress - it happens much faster than perfection

  • If you must to give advice (and I really think you have to be very disciplined to be sure you must give advice) ask for permission first. e.g. " would it be OK with you if I shared an idea?"

A reporter once asked Mother Teresa what she said during her prayers. She replied, “I listen”. The reporter then asked, “Well then, what does God say?” Mother Teresa answered with a smile, “God listens”.

This day, try it. Listen with love.

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