Listening deeply to another is the best gift I can think to give this year.
Being able to hold space for another.
Listening with no agenda.
Listening without aiming to respond, or be clever, or win the conversation.
Many of us aren’t taught to do this.
Our educational system seems to reinforce “listening to win.” If you have ever sat in a graduate-level seminar, you will understand what I mean.
Our systems reward cleverness, witty repartee, put-downs, “strong” arguments, “influencing others.”
Mark Goulston and John Ullman, in Real Influence, recognize that the core of real influence is in listening to the other, learning where they are coming from, and meeting them there vs. “getting someone to do something.”
So many of us hunger to be understood. The recent statistics on loneliness are staggering, In a 2018 survey of 20,000 American adults, Cigna found:
- 54% feel that no one knows them well
- 56% said that the people around them “aren’t necessarily with them.”
- 40% felt isolated and lacked companionship
The cause may not matter in the long-run.
I figured the best thing I could do is to learn to listen. Connect with the people around me. Seek to understand where the other is coming from. Provide a space to just be.
Listening skills require practice.
Listening skills DON’T require courses (though courses exist).
This is my skill focus for 2019.