Must be silent to hear
How busy are you in your relationships? Do you exist within the relationship? I do not mean physically present because it is a given. I am talking about being mentally, emotionally and spiritually invested in a relationship. Being devoted means ending difficult times if the relationship goes into rough waters. I am defining relationships here as all kinds of human relationships, whether they are intimate, friends, family or work colleagues. Now you might think: “Tony, I couldn’t be more busy with my boss because I would cross the line of being his friend.” So allow me to explain myself. Being engaged and being present means that we face our whole self with others. For example, it is my experience as a coach that many people are ineffective listeners. They intend to chime in when the other person ends. They are not participating in communication and this is evident in their body language. Think about it for a moment, do you consider yourself a good listener in your relationships? Do you listen closely to what others are saying or do you skim across the surface of their words?
The topic of this article is inspired by a recent conversation with a boss with a client facing communication challenges. She mentioned the difficulty of maintaining a mutual understanding with her boss as to what she had to say due to her intolerance. He remembered a recent experience that was met with contempt and indifference. The boss was certain that they were repeating “yes” throughout the conversation. However from my client’s point of view, they were indifferent to her communication. Listening requires silence until the other person ends their dialogue. You can also ask them: “Is there anything else you want to tell me about this situation?” In this way, you create an open dialogue with the other party instead of showing your interest. I know of a family member who constantly asks me questions when interpreting a story. I find it frustrating because if they listen actively, I will tell them what they need to know in the context of the story. If I have not explained myself well, once I finish, they have the right to ask questions. Do you agree with these feelings? What is your experience with a poor audience?
Bring your authentic self for every interaction
Listening is one aspect of how we engage in our relationships. Other methods include: creating an environment of kindness, kindness and presence with another person. So if your significant other comes home and tells you about their problems at work, instead of fixing it, listen without any bias. Listen with an open mind and kind heart, knowing that they are coming to you because they feel safe to share their weaknesses. Until they ask for help, listen actively and give them the gift of your presence. Certainly, I understand that we want to fix the other person’s problem but often our advice may be unqualified or unnecessary. What is required for this is empathy, presence and non-equality. Have you experienced this with your intimate relationships where you wanted your partner to just listen to you? Sometimes it is difficult and we react angrily because we do not want anyone to fix our problems, we want to listen.
Who said relationships were easy? They are not meant to be easy, although they are worth it even when the other person pushes our pain button. We experience growth at that time because it forces us to see ourselves even during conflicts. The importance of staying engaged and present within our relationships means promoting true communication. We make decisions and let go of the definitive thoughts of what we think the other person is actually saying. There is an opportunity to heal the wounds of our childhood when we listen with an open heart as we allow our ego to take a back seat. The ego wants to listen while the heart likes to listen. It is difficult to hear because it involves silence and thoughtful reflection while the other person is talking. Furthermore, not all problems need to be solved. When we try to solve other people’s problems, we take away their ability to overcome their challenges. We dislike them and take away their identity. What we must do is to listen and ask encouraging questions so that they arrive at the answers themselves.
Are you seeing that being present and present in your relationships is more than your physical presence? This means bringing your authentic self to every conversation and letting go of judgment, blame and anger. I am not suggesting that this is simple but if we consider why we are in a relationship in the first place, we learn to see these dissatisfied feelings and truly connect with our core emotions. With this in mind, I would like you to choose a relationship that you are feeling. It can be a coworker, a friend, a family member or a significant other. In the next seven days, actively make an agreement with yourself about what the other person is saying. Listen with the intention of engaging with their words and feelings rather than skimming across the surface of communication. Try to find out what they want to know about this situation. Are they afraid? Are they feeling insecure? Or angry? If so, maybe they need unconditional love? Are you willing to give them without saying a word? Maybe they want you to see them with loving eyes, even if they experience negative feelings. The true test is when we are engaged in all our relationships without the need to say much.