There is a lot of talk these days about communication skills and for a very good reason; they are without a shadow of a doubt very important. When listing all the aspects of good communication high up on the list will be, ‘the ability to listen’. Just quickly ask yourself are you a natural ‘talker’ or ‘listener’. Don’t make yourself wrong for whichever camp you are in, the world needs both of us. I am a natural talker and prone to finding myself talking ‘too much’.
I’ve had to learn to be a listener and indeed am still a student. Despite all my talking, asking questions about other people’s lives does not come naturally because in our house asking questions about other people’s lives was considered to be nosey and an interfering ‘busy body’. I mention that only in passing as friend pointed out to me recently, that it was extremely rude not to ask questions about other people’s lives, as this means you don’t care about them. Wow! Yes our perception makes all the difference to our behaviour. Until I became aware of what was behind my lack of asking questions about other people’s lives I was just running on auto pilot and oblivious to the impact of my behaviour.
Which brings me to what I actually want to talk about which is listening to ourselves. Rather than get too wordy about it what I would like you to do right now is get a piece of A4 paper and a pen ……… Got them? … Go on get them …. it will only take a few minutes and the insight is invaluable for improving relationships and having a peaceful day.
o Draw a line down the middle of the page.
o Now think of a conversation you had which didn’t go as you would have liked it to have gone. It doesn’t matter how long ago it was.
o Now on the Right hand side script the conversation, ie I said “bla bla….” They said “bla…bla…” and just keep going until the conversation ended up where you didn’t want it to. (It’s amazing how quickly this can happen usually before you get to the end of the page!)
o NOW on the Left hand side write down what you were thinking before your first words.
o Then write down what you thought after each time they said what they said.
o Now listen to what you were thinking and be a 100% honest about how this influenced the outcome of the conversation.
What have you learnt about yourself from this exercise?
When I did it, I felt that the other person was making me wrong, wrong, wrong for my behaviour. I was taking no responsibility for my part of the conversation going out of control. What I found when I looked at my thoughts was I was judging them all the way making them wrong, wrong, wrong even if my words were not fueling the fire my energy was there shoveling it on.
What I learnt is to surrender my need to be RIGHT, my opinion is simply my opinion, so instead of fueling the fire the flames die down.
Becoming aware of how our subconscious, auto pilot way of being impacts our life can bring about positive changes. We are like a stone thrown in a pond we send out ripples which have an effect on our environment.