"Listen deeply, not just to yourself, but to others. Although it sounds like a simple practice, remember- we jump to conclusions, tune out what we don't want to hear, and are highly influenced by emotions, beliefs, and our own bias of how the world works"
- James McPartland
Every time you connect to another person, no matter how subtlety, you hold a degree of responsibility for that person's future well being. In some ways, this is a weight to carry, yet also an opportunity to make a lasting impression.
If even one interaction can meet a person at the intersection of their wants and needs, you have the chance to make an impact. Listening for a person's most pressing issue or highest aspiration opens a door to help that individual push past whatever is holding them back and to encourage them to take another step toward their great potential.
Most people have built up a suit of armor to protect themselves from the danger around them, and fear inside of them. Therein lies the opportunity to listen deeply.
Ask yourself: What would I want if I were in their shoes?
Every engagement, no matter how small, represents an investment into a relationship. Over time, the accumulation of deposits into people adds up. And when those deposits are made in the form of listening deeply, a natural progression in that relationship takes place:
When we listen to understand, not to formulate our reply, we validate people.
When people feel validated, they feel understood.
When we feel validated and understood, we come to like the person we are interacting with.
When we like a person, we trust them.
When we trust them, we are more likely to bare our essential and authentic selves.
And this, my friends, is where the deepest and most meaningful bonds are developed
What are you listening for?
It takes discipline to listen for what we can do for someone with little to no benefit for our own self-interest. When we listen deeply, we are telling people that they matter and that their knowledge, thoughts, insights, and experiences hold value with us. And whether they admit it or not, there is not one person on earth, regardless of their industry, status, or passions that does not crave validation.
Paradoxically, listening deeply for the benefit of others has an upside for you. Deeply listening to others, forging relationships, and constantly asking how you can help, compounds to a point where many of the biggest challenges put in front of you require the best of what's inside of you. You position yourself to expand what you know, beyond your view of how the world works, and further away from that ingrained need to be right.
And while this is not easy, it illuminates an empathic appreciation that the phrase "growing pains" exists for a reason.