I had a little epiphany along these lines in a recent client workshop. The organisation had a multifaceted internal set-up and the room full of opinions was fraught with frustration. I sensed the negative energy, the build-up of differing viewpoints, the desire of everyone to get their point across … not only was no-one really listening, but no-one was speaking to be listened to either.
Most of us, especially in business, would say we are good listeners (at least this is how we want to be seen by others!). But the reality, I dare to suggest, is that the business world is the one place where we probably listen the least.
In business, we either listen from a distracted place of immense busy-ness (our head down, doing-doing-doing state) or we listen from a place of pre-judgment – either about the person speaking or about the subject they are speaking about. In both cases, we listen through our own filters, which immediately distorts the depth of the communication.
Moreover, we often speak to be heard, not to be listened to. We may wonder why those around us – our staff, team members, colleagues, even friends and family – are not doing what we say? Yet, if we were to be present to simultaneously listen to the words pouring out of our mouths, would we hear ourselves ‘talking’ or ‘telling’, sharing words that implore to be listened to, or demand to be heard?
Communication is a two-way street, but listening is as well: if it isn’t done emphatically, with great focus and – importantly – presence, regardless of whether it is ourselves or anyone else who is talking, then how can we ever hope for any meaningful transformational change to take place?
So in the midst of the workshop, I listened: with a great sense of empathy, heightened level of awareness and deep presence for the individuals, for the group, and for the words that I myself then chose to share. It was a subtle shift that provided a space of openness for others to do the same; to drop their own filters; to connect to the words that were then filling the increasingly calmer room; to drop pre-judgments and frustrations; and to gain a deeper sense of respect, clarity and empathy for the situation.
When we are really, truly listening empathetically from a place of presence – to the words of others, as well as those we speak ourselves – we allow ourselves and those around us to connect to the deeper essence of who we/they are and what we/they are saying … When that happens, when we connect with that depth, with that richness, with that joy, then transformation can occur on all levels.
If we don’t present the opportunity for transformative breakthroughs in our interactions, communications, conversations, and relationships, how can we ever hope to progress in our personal lives, let alone in business?
Isn’t life simple? It’s really all about listening … not only to what others say, but to the things you say, too.
Photo: Amaryllis Liampoti – Unsplash