Effective listening goes far deeper than we understand. Master this skill and it will transform your life and business. It’s a powerful creative skill. Depending on how we listen, the outcome will influence us negatively or positively. Reading Genership 1.0: Beyond Leadership Toward Liberating the Creative Soul has given me a new insight into listening. The fundamentals in relation to listening and creativity are explained in the book.
The author David Castro states, “We can only fully understand the role of listening within creativity when we come to grips with how the mere presence of our consciousness shapes the world around us. When we listen, we open those doors that our ideas, senses and related tools select from the much broader field of possible experience. This practice gives birth to some potential avenues for interaction and development and closes off others. Listening becomes the cornerstone of creative activity.”
Don’t talk, just listen
Many times when we’re listening to someone speaking, we interrupt without realizing. Too keen to have our say, we jump in impatiently to share our story. We always seem to have something in common with what the other person is saying. It even boils down to when we are giving people a supportive shoulder. They’re crying, but instead of letting them cry, we give them a tissue. In effect, we’re stopping them from releasing their tears. They’ll stop crying to use the tissue, blow their nose and dry their eyes. It cuts off their flow.
Many years ago after the death of three loved ones, I had counseling sessions. The counselor allowed me to speak and cry. She didn’t interrupt. She simply sat and listened to my words and tears. That allowed healing to take place.
Castro shared his involvement in a unique short training (listening) exercise in 1994. Although the idea seemed simple, it was challenging. It involved being quiet for eight minutes while listening to someone else’s life story. At the end of the eight minutes, you tell your life story. While his or her story is being told, you’re not allowed to comment, ask questions or interrupt. Simply listen.
The exercise had a life changing effect on Castro in terms of listening in communication. He still uses that method today. The bottom line is this: Listening intently gives you the opportunity to grasp what’s being said without distorting the other person’s ideas with your opinions and beliefs.
The barriers that stop effective listening
Distractions and other things obstruct your ability to listen attentively. They have a damaging effect on the outcome of communication. I’ll summarize some of those barriers as described in Genership:
• “I went to the supermarket, the drugstore and the gym.” The other person responded to that statement by saying, “So, you went to the gym. Tell me about it.” This is an amplification response. It distorts the full message in order to identify with the parts we relate to. The listener picks up and discusses the parts that interest him. The rest falls by the wayside. Therefore, the essence of the whole picture is lost. The solution to effective listening is to hear the whole message. Not just pick the parts we’re curious about.
• Puppeting is when the person listening focuses on particular words in the conversation. He’ll repeat and magnify them. But he’s not really listening; he’s having a conversation with himself about what he wants to hear. It’s a deceptive way of pushing his ideas forward. The solution is to hold on to our words, encourage and allow others to speak without interruption.
• The drifting response happens when two people are talking. Yet, they’re both caught up in their own private conversation. Although the conversation seems to be linked, they’re actually communicating with themselves. Somehow, their minds wander away from listening to the other person; instead, they respond to their own related aspects of the discussion. The solution is to have total concentration on the core part of the message, and ignore minor parts.
“Listening is essential; it provides the only way to engage the power of more than one mind. Effective listening allows many minds to coordinate like computers in a network, creating exponential increases in creative power. When listening falters and ultimately fail, however, people become less and less effective, incapable of realizing their visions in reality.”
Effective listening heightens the creativity within us, because we feed from genuine responses during conversations that transform and shapes our decisions. When we’re listened to, we’re inspired to be creative in all aspects of our lives.
What’s your thoughts on listening? Do you think we use our listening skills properly?