“Listening may not be the most exciting part of the conversation, but it’s essential if you want to have a meaningful exchange with another person.” – Tania Israel
When you go with the flow and engage in an active interplay with the universe you will be sculptured into that person you were meant to be on the day you were born.
Yet, attachment to judgments, concepts, beliefs, ideas and habits undoubtedly form the biggest obstacle to personal development and soul elevation.
The renowned Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung once wrote that some of his most difficult patients were the so-called intellectuals, stuck in their rigid rational thinking. If you are unwilling to accept your own shadow, you will be unwilling to move forward.
Just tuning in for a few minutes to some of the world’s popular talk shows is revealing. (I can’t bear watching it for longer) Neither the host nor the participants are really capable of focusing on what the other person has to say. Minds are made-up before the other person has finished speaking and interrupted in mid-sentence.
Playing the tit-for-tat ping-pong game in communication never ends well. We seem to have lost the ability to really engage with our fellow human beings by deep listening. On the personal level, it inevitably leads to misunderstandings and relationship breakdowns. In the public and political arena, the word “consensus” is almost a blasphemy as each side blasts the other from its walled-off information bubble.
The ancient Greeks and the melting pot of ideas
The loudest person in the room seldom has the best answers. Deep listening is only possible if we temporarily remove ourselves from judgment and pre-conceived concepts. It requires a willingness to receive and digest new information – whether pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.
The ancient Athenians were well aware that democracy rested on a bedrock of a lively exchange of different ideas. Aware that every individual perceived reality in a different way, the truth could only be found in an active exchange of these different ideas and concepts.
Much of the public narrative we see is not interested in exchanging ideas but merely seeking affirmation of existing ideas. It is the recipe for stagnation and the slide into authoritarianism, along the lines: “If you don’t accept my truth you are my enemy.”
Deep listening is learning
The great Buddhist monk Thich Nath Hanh, described deep listening as in essence a process of learning. It is how we listen that is truly transformative. He said in an interview with Oprah: “Deep listening helps us to recognize the existence of wrong perceptions in the other person and wrong perceptions in us. The other person has wrong perceptions about himself and about us. And we have wrong perceptions about ourselves and the other person. And that is the foundation for violence and conflict and war.”
The whispers from the universe, that guide us on our soul path, often come in most unexpected ways from so-called everyday persons. It could be the janitor, the bus driver, or a casual remark picked up on a train.
Asking powerful questions about the who, the what, how, and when will lead to meaning and possibility and keep a thought process and conversation going. Asking questions puts you in a position of authentic authority.
Listening leaders make listening to the ideas and inputs of their employees a key part of their leadership strategy. Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of the Virgin Group, summed up his success as a leader with the words: “Listen more than you talk.”
Real leaders listen in order to form connections and to build trust and respect. It’s so simple but needs to be said, as I experience this often in my workshops and seminars: Stop multi-tasking! Give people your full attention and respect. Look them in the eye and put away your cell phone and laptop.
Autocrats typically cannot listen, surrounding themselves with toadies and sycophants. Inevitably they end up making bad decisions and choices because their leadership style is based on intimidation and fear.
A frightening recent example was Vladimir Putin publicly humiliating his spy chief prior to the invasion of Ukraine. Nobody dared tell him the truth that invading another country was a horrible idea that would ruin Russia’s economy and make it a pariah nation for decades to come.
Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker
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