Hello – listen – what can you hear?
Why do we listen? For what purpose do you listen? To whom do you listen? For what are you listening? Are there times when you listen more completely than others? When you do listen, do you really hear what the other person is saying?
Are you listening to gain information or knowledge? Are you listening to learn something in a specific environment? For example, is the degree of your listening different when you hear the flight attendant giving you the safety instructions before take-off to what it would be if, half-way to your destination there was an announcement the engines were on fire and the plane was going down?
Being totally present in a conversation is one of the least expensive and most treasured gifts you can give anyone. What you listen for determines what you get out of the conversation.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you are thinking – I wish she’d hurry up and get to the point? How much are you really hearing when all you want is the bottom line? How could you steer the conversation toward “the point” and still honour the other person so you left them feeling you had really given them the gift of listening, you had really made them feel worthy?
When my mum was alive she would ring me every Sunday morning. On one occasion she finished the conversation with “it’s good to hear your voice”. To this point I had only said “hello”. The purpose of her conversation was different to what mine might have been.
As a coach one of the most important skills I have is to listen, to really listen to what the client is saying or not saying. For me to give the client he most value I need to really listen to what is being said and to ask powerful questions, to drill down below the surface to find out what is really troubling the client.
Some time ago I read On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. In this book she talked about the research she had done for the book which included talking with people who were receiving palliative care. The bit that really stuck in my mind was the manner in which many of the staff members in the particular facility would look away from the patient or leave them be when the patient only wanted to have someone to talk to. I felt that was the most valuable lesson I took from that book.
Sometimes people will knock on your door/ring on the phone and it is not convenient to stop and chat. That’s fine – it is imperative that you honour yourself and your values as well as those of the other person. When you find yourself in this position all you need to do is explain to that person that it’s not convenient right now and make a time when it is mutually convenient to have that chat. Of course, if it is a matter of life and death, then you need to re-assess the situation however those situations do not occur every day.
There are loads of people who have lots of time and having an idle chat helps fill in their day and there are people, like me, who make a point of having every day filled with meaningful activity. That is not to say people like me don’t have time for those people – it does mean I honour myself sufficiently to fill my life with meaningful activities and if I am to honour that other person and give them value so our chat has some meaning, I need to have the time to really give them so they are getting my undivided attention.
And how do I give that person the appropriate amount of time – essentially we make an appointment. If it is a client, it will be more formal. If it is a friend, I’ll meet them for a coffee or, as many older people don’t/can’t drive, I might go to Victor Harbor or somewhere for the markets or something like that.
I have one such friend who has introduced me to lots of different activities I would not have engaged in had I not made the time to give her for a chat.
“Chatting” can take many forms and with today’s rapid communication facilities, we have additional outlets. One of those is email. Some of my clients chat a lot in emails and some use Facebook. Every bit of conversation gives me more information about the client, more areas where I can help them.
Many things can be revealed in a chat. It can be revealed in the words people use, words like “I can’t” or “I have to” or “I should”. The gold is in going behind the words to really find out what is going on. If this were in a work situation, for example, and someone said “I can’t …” meaning they can’t do something this may be something you need to investigate further. Perhaps the person can’t because they don’t know how, or perhaps they can’t because it violates one of their personal values or perhaps they can’t because they won’t be there when the job has to be done. Investigating could save your heartache down the track.
One of the things I have discovered is that many people are really very lonely. There may be other people around and yet they are lonely – they really need someone to talk to and then they need to take action to help themselves and this is one of the things that can be sorted out in a coaching session.
The coach never advises the client – all she does is ask the client powerful questions while listening to what the client has to say. Some people are totally unaware of where they could go, what they could do, who they need to be and we can work through these issues when the client is ready to take action, when the client has decided enough is enough.
When listening to people I have also discovered that when they are lonely, they often become very self-focussed and when this goes on for a while they rapidly discover the downhill slope – and it’s not at the ski resort.
This can lead to lack of self-esteem and once someone has decided they don’t have any self-esteem or they only have a little bit left in the bottom of the jar, everything seems to go wrong with them and they tend to exacerbate the situation by remaining totally focussed on the negative. After all you get what you focus on.
When you love yourself enough you will treat yourself with respect and honour your values. After all, your values are who you are and when you love and respect yourself you will have some left over to share with others, to champion them, to help them feel sensational, to be worthy, to be the magnificent person they were born to be.
And all this can come down to giving that person a little time for a chat.
Want to know more, send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange a chat. When you come from a good place, your intention is to honour yourself and the other person, only good can come from the experience.