09.16.19 | Power of Listening

" . . . people hearing without listening . . . " (S&G, Sounds of Silence)

Participate in or eavesdrop on a conversation. Certain ones might be characterized as auto-talk i.e. ones marked by a kind of a numbed-out recital of prepackaged words, phrases, views, and quips delivered out of habit or to avoid an uncomfortable silence. Listen in and you may detect the tell-tale signs i.e. interruption, over-talk, or instances of conversation otherwise subtly hijacked and changed to suit the other.

Then there are the conversations that sparkle. Observe the dynamics. See how the participants are focused on the other. You can see it in their demeanor, in the deliberate thoughtful pauses, in the way they consciously reflect on what's being said. The Highland community endeavors to foster such active listening. That is the aspiration of Member Monday.

True listening, the heart of any successful relationship, is a subtle art. Joining us for the next session will be Sharna Ill and her colleague Courtney Gambrell of Boulder Community Health. Sharna founded and implemented an initiative called BCH Listens, directed to the practice of artful listening for healthcare providers and staff at all levels. The underlying process, known as empathic communication, extrapolates and integrates a host of disciplines from the personal to the professional. The tools apply throughout the entire spectrum of communication.

As such, we are breaking the usual format just a bit. Sharna and Courtney will be more than lead participants; they are there to draw out the wisdom of the group. They will facilitate the session by means of their experiential approach -- a guided interactive session designed to make us more aware of the natural awkwardness that comes with listening dynamics and the potential for each of us to overcome the underlying cracks and barriers.

By way of general background, a good place to start is with our Get Over Thyself session (MM 8/27/18) and come to terms with the deep, unconscious, and literal self-centeredness of our natural state. One guiding principle is to get beyond the notion we are simply heroes of our own narrative (Click: Active Listening: The Gift that Keeps Giving). Only from there do we have the openness to embrace the many skills and techniques behind active listening.

A new world may await. Take love. A NYT article that went viral a few years ago claimed intimacy between two strangers could be accelerated by having them ask each other a specific series of personal questions (Click: The 36 Questions That Lead to Love). The couple was also to silently stare into their partner's eyes for four minutes. View this exercise as a means to establish naked vulnerability and closeness -- a way to enter one another's space. The phenomenon of active listening, though far more subtle, taps into the same place.

Or, take leadership. The expansion of listening to the truly 360-degree level (taking in what is, what is not, and how something is said), while perhaps challenging, is the key to creating the energy for what's possible (Click: Listening is an Overlooked Leadership Tool).

Finally, could not end without this delightful two-minute parody (It's Not About The Nail).

To gain access to previous Member Monday sessions click: TOC

Steve SmithComment