One day, on a cozy winter night at my parents place, my dad dropped another one of his one-liners. He was talking to me about conversation in relationships and he said, “Sometimes it’s important to add space to a conversation. Leave space for the other person and see what blooms. It’s beautiful.” The way he says beautiful is as if he can see beauty in his mind and is in absolute awe of it. My dad is wise, but I don’t think even he knows how wise he really is. I don’t think he had any idea how scientifically true that statement was.
I’ve always been fascinated with Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP)- the science behind our communication styles. NLP is a focus that teaches people how to make the most of their conversations by using proven communication techniques based in psychology. A principle component of NLP is Active Listening. Active Listening is the art of being fully present and intentional when listening to someone. Many of us think we’re good listeners because we care enough to hear about what the other person says and are able to contribute back to the conversation. But when was the last time you actually observed how you listen? How often do you interrupt the other person? Do you notice yourself getting impatient the more someone else speaks? Do you find yourself counting the minutes until you can contribute your great point to the conversation? I hate to break it to you, but if you said yes to any of the above questions, your listening skills could use some work. Most of us are really bad listeners under the disguise of great ones. If you’d like to have truly fulfilling conversations where no one leaves feeling misunderstood, it’s time to implement some active listening techniques.
Here are a few quick ways to help you get started:
Pay attention: Try your best not to zone out! We all do it. We’ve all had conversations where while the other person is talking, we’re thinking about what workout we can do that will keep us sane during quarantine, then we start thinking about the best time of day to do that workout, then we start thinking about what we’re going to eat after that workout and the groceries we’ll need to get and what recipes we should look up and then we remember we were supposed to send someone a copy of a recipe to a friend and then……and then we’re completely not listening to the person in front of us. It happens. Here’s how to fix it.
Leave space for the other person in the conversation and see what blooms. It can be beautiful.