How can one use listening to bring out the best in others?

So you learn to honor everybody you meet as your teacher when you realize that there is nothing else you can do but be conscious, for the good of yourself and for all your fellow men and women, and to bring you closer to the place you’re trying most to get to by all the other means you thought you were working on.

Ram Dass

Have the right frame of mind

By getting into the right frame of mind, your body language will tell the other person that you are totally focused on them.

The inner state to aim for is alert stillness. This state is best thought of as being poised between relaxation and wakefulness. The mind is open with little or no self talk.

By being still physically, the other person isn’t distracted. By being still mentally, you don’t distract yourself.  Your alertness will show in your face. Nothing says you are listening like alert stillness.

This state is what is cultivated by mindfulness practices. If you are interested in mindfulness, be sure to check out my posts on it, especially Getting Started with Mindfulness Meditation

Be humble

You don’t have have all the answers. Your ideas about what you think the other person should do will prejudice you so that you don’t really hear what they say.

As Ram Dass says approach them as a teacher. You will learn more about this person than you have before, because you are open to what they are really saying.

Be authentic

When you are authentic, there is no need to think about what you are going to say. You trust yourself to have the right words when the time comes. If you are genuine and you care about the person, supportive words will come to you.

Authenticity comes from self-awareness, being aware of your agendas, patterns and concern what others think. Over time you learn to surrender these concerns, open your heart and become vulnerable. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is among the bravest things you can do. It pays you back in closer relationships and a richer life.

Be authentic. Surrender your agendas.

Creating the space

If you have mastered the above qualities, it will be easy to create a safe, open space in which the other can share their inner-most feelings.

©2016 Stephen L. Martin

Painting: Listening to the Birds by Winslow Homer

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