Are You A Good Listener?By Dr. Margaret Paul
March 16, 2021
If you want to have meaningful connection with others, then you need to develop the art of listening.
Some years ago, renowned singer and social activist Alanis Morrissette, who is a big proponent of Inner Bonding and a friend of mine, gave a keynote talk at the 'Emerging Women' conference in Boulder, Colorado. She invited me to attend and I was delighted to hear her speak. Instead of giving a monologue, she had a dialogue with Tami Simon, the CEO of Sounds True, who interviewed her. The dialogue was about relationships with self, others and God. One of the topics she spoke about was how important it is to her to have connection with people, which she can't do when they don't listen.
Alanis is originally from Canada, and she said that she was so surprised when she first came to L.A. to discover that, unlike in Canada, people rarely listened. She found people talking on and on, and when she did speak up, they often interrupted her to go on and on again. Being a highly sensitive introvert, she struggled with what to do. She tried speaking up more, but finally settled on being quiet and then choosing to only be with people who listen – who want a true dialogue, rather than a monologue.
Alanis is a master at listening and dialoguing. She asks great questions, listens attentively, and responds with aliveness and support. She is a true joy to connect with and I’ve loved our conversations.
If connection with others is important to you, then you need to cultivate the art of listening.
Are you a good listener or a poor listener?
When the other person is talking, do you really hear what they are saying, or are you focused instead on what you want to say?
Do you offer true heartfelt responses to what the other person has just said, letting them know that you really hear them and get them, or do you go off on something about you?
Do you ask questions to deepen the conversation with the other person, or do you constantly shift the conversation to whatever it is you want to say?
Do you wait until the other person is finished with what they are saying, or do you keep interrupting?
Do you maintain eye contact, or do you look around while they are talking?
Is your energy accepting and understanding, or are you judgmental – either in your mind or out loud?
To Be A Good Listener, Also Learn To Listen To Yourself
Part of the art of listening and cultivating connection is also listening to yourself. If you find yourself feeling bored, it could be that the other person is only interested in talking and not in having a connected dialogue. If you discover that this is true – that they keep going on and on and interrupting you, and are not able to also listen to or hear you - then you might want to find a way to lovingly disengage and then not seek out that person for connected time together.
Like Alanis, I love being with people who are not only good listeners, but who also bring their vitality and aliveness to the conversation. I love being inspired by people, and I’m inspired by people who are connected with themselves and their guidance so that they can connect with me. Connected people don't need to monopolize the conversation because they don't need to get filled by the other person – they come to the conversation already filled and ready to share their fullness.
If connecting with others is important to you, then practice developing the art of listening – with yourself, with your guidance and with others. Be discerning regarding who you can have a deeply connected conversation with and who is too self-centered and disconnected from themselves to connect with you. If you feel lonely or bored with someone, check inside to make sure you are open hearted and connected with yourself, and if you are, then your loneliness or boredom is letting you know that the other person is not open and present with you. You are not required to care-take them by politely listening while they go on and on! Listen to your feelings and learn to take loving care of yourself.
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."
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Pain and joy are in the same place in the heart. You cannot put a lid on pain without putting a lid on your joy as well. Are you opting for the flatness of the illusion of safety, or are you willing to experience both the lows and the highs of life? Today, cry and laugh with your whole heart.
By Dr. Margaret Paul