Listening is a superpower.
“Listening well is a superpower. When listening to someone you love, keep asking them ‘Is there more?’, until there is no more.“ - Kelly, Kevin. Excellent Advice for Living: Wisdom I Wish I’d Known Earlier. Viking, 2023.
I came across this wisdom while reading Kevin Kelly’s above-mentioned book. It gave me thinking. Was my superpower listening? Was I a good listener at all? What would I gain or lose when I would start listening well?
Well. Let’s find out.
How did I find out about the nature of my listening?
How did I find out? I figured it out when I performed a fast experiment consisting only on asking oneself a question – “where am I right now?”. It’s a simple, yet powerful question which reveals the reality – I didn’t listen well.
What did I do instead of listening well?
What did I actually do instead of listening? Various of things.
- When I was in a meeting at work, where I wasn’t supposed to be on, pretending to be listening I was answering on Slack, or doing my stuff. Gosh. It even happened in the meetings I was supposed to be in.
- When I had a coffee with my better half on the Saturday’s morning, I was thinking of my TODO list.
- When I discussed (argued?) with someone, I was preparing the witty reply to that someone.
How did it effect me?
I couldn’t have held my focus on the speaker. I easily lost the interest in the conversation. Furthermore, I wasn’t there, I was somewhere else with my thoughts.
That so-called “multitasking” was killing me. I half-assed the conversation, splitting my attention among more than one thing. And I was never good at multitasking. I always thought it was counterproductive. Yet, I did it anyway.
What are the benefits of listening well (or what shouldn’t have I done)?
I’m being honest
When I give all my attention to someone, I’m being frank. I don’t have to nod my head unconsciously, pretending I’m listening. When unexpectedly asked, I don’t have to answer rushing, being caught not listening. I don’t send the signals to my interlocutor, that perhaps I’m not so present currently because I’m bored, tired, somewhere else.
It shows the respect.
Being present is good for me
Listening well means being present, right here, right now. Being present is good for my mental health. In the presence, I’m safe, healthy, and well. That’s being in the future or in the past, instead of presence, causes my problems.
Giving the best gift of all (that even money can’t buy)
Let’s be honest, how can I build better relations with the close ones, if not by giving my presence? Isn’t it the best gift of all?
Solving issues better and faster
Listening well means I’m actually listening to someone, which means I increase my chances to actually understand someone’s perspective, feelings, and needs. The path to find common solution gets shorten.
I can actually understand what the other person means, instead of assuming because my brain is too lazy and does some thinking shortcuts. If I put all my power to understand, and still, I ask the follow-up questions, e.g., “what do you mean by that?”.
How easier is it when I just focus on listening? Enormously easier.
What can I do to listen well?
What helps me to bring my focus back to listening? I keep asking myself the question, “where am I right now?”. The correct answer is “right here, right now”. When I’m not “right here, right now”, I gently, without any feelings, push myself to be present, by saying to myself “That’s an interesting thought I had, let’s go back to the presence”.
Written in Difree | Graphics thanks to #dalle