Listening is not a mere act, it’s a skill. We are talking about listening to understand, not just to reply, judge or offer a quick solution. Everybody wants to be heard, as listening heals deeply. It is extremely comforting. Anyone who has owned a pet, and has sat with them to share their thoughts and emotions, will root for this. Pets just listen. No interruptions whatsoever (well, maybe a few licks here and there but nothing else). Learn from them, for that’s how you should be.
With our experience of consulting over 9,000 patients across the world, we see how powerful the simple act of listening is. When a patient feels heard, cared for, understood and knows that the other person is truly engaged in their story, the healing starts that very moment. Patients begin to express from their heart immediately, they feel closer to you, and feel light and relieved. There is nothing more rejuvenating than this. But sadly, most of us don’t listen. We jump to offer advice or tell our stories instead. This doesn’t work for either of the people. All a person in pain wants is to know someone is interested in what they have to say. This is called compassionate listening.
Also, hearing and listening are not the same. Hearing is a physical act of perceiving sounds or someone’s voice. You could be hearing but not paying attention. Deep listening, on the other hand, is beyond hearing. It allows you to understand not just what’s spoken but also the things that aren’t. It helps you read between the lines. You pick up emotions, thought processes, energy, patterns, and begin to understand the mindset of a person.
Deep listening is not just for others, it is also for ourselves. We often look for solutions outside, but our body already has all the answers. For that, you just need to peak inside and listen without judgement. It will help you answer all your dilemmas... even little everyday things like how much you should eat, when you should eat, which foods suit you, which ones don’t, how much sleep you need, what makes you cranky, what makes you happy etc. It is a great way to understand yourself. So, the next time you want to find an answer, just stop and turn inwards.
Here are a few ways to listen deeply.
✥ Practice patience first
✥ Avoid multitasking
✥ Resist offering answers or solutions
✥ Don’t be judgemental
✥ Avoid giving sympathy or empathy
The skill of deep listening is useful for, but not just limited to nutritionists, doctors and coaches. It is the key to successful relationships at home, work and between couples, personal growth, and how we feel about ourselves when going through life’s ups and downs. We speak to many people who tell us that they want to give back to society but are unsure about what they can do. Just lend an ear to somebody who needs it. You will change their life forever.
(The author is a holistic lifestyle coach- Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine )