Comments Off on Listening Is an Act of Honor
We all know humans are social creatures. We are genetically predisposed to creating families, communities quickly coagulate, and there is plenty of research stating that there are health benefits to good companionship (2011, Mayo Clinic). When we are with others, there is an apparent cyclical flow of kinetic energy. Our varying personalities push and pull it around creating a dynamism that is both stimulating and inherent. Social interaction, or spontaneous energy exchange, behaves as a Law of Nature, perhaps explaining why quality interaction and wholesome energy exchange is deemed as physically healthful and emotionally fulfilling.
One of the most significant ways to successfully interact is through good listening. Sounds easy enough (pun intended) but the rise in societal noise, such as marketing messages and electronic overstimulation, has caused some weakening in this ability. A skill is a socially distinct act deemed valuable. Interestingly, good listening, something you’d think us social creatures would be naturally good at, is considered one of today’s most valuable skills.
Good listening is indeed, a powerful and, dare we say, reverent act. It requires intent from one individual to another, which in and of itself is a spontaneous energy exchange. A good listener is focused on an individual. The cell phone is out of sight, there is eye-to-eye contact and even the subtlest of facial expressions are read for content. In exchange, the person sharing opens up at a deeper level of transparency, increasing the quality of social interaction to one that is most fulfilling. This is why the act of good listening is so potent. It is the good deed of one human spirit honoring another and therefore, a gift more valuable than money or material objects. The exchange of reverence is very subtle but it is real and strikes a person most deeply. This is why good listening is one of the most important skills of a successful leader, why a good listener is perceived as attractive and why others literally seek them out.
A word of caution: practicing poor listening can increase social tension caused by the obstruction of energy exchange. University of Missouri reported that poor listening habits are more common than poor speaking skills and that there is a strong contrast between shallow listening and deep listening:
“…so our V.P. is leaving and my boss has asked me to meet with him on Monday.”[silence]
“…the V.P. at my job quit!”
“Huh? Oh sorry, just had to text Tracy…yeah that’s great…”
One of the primary characteristics distinguishing deep listening is empathy, which cannot be achieved when one participant is partially disengaged. Shutting down as much external stimulation as possible creates a more optimum environment for mutually fulfilling listening; literally a better scenario for one person intending to honor another. Optimistically, good listening can be learned but it takes intent.
If you want to love your friends and family in a profound way, you can do it through listening. It subversively tells them you see them, that you value them and that they are safe with you. This simple act of quality social engagement is underrated today. Through good listening we can raise the value of our own social presence and increase the self-esteem of others, we can give a love and caring that is more stirring and live an improved kind of existence in which our relationships are more gratifying.