Listening – To Which Conversation?

Photo by Skylar Sahakian on Unsplash

They say that when we listen to someone speak, we filter what they say through our own experiences, our beliefs and our values. As a storyteller, I want to create feelings within the reader. I want to stir emotions. I want people to change what and how they feel when they read my stuff. When they read this.

But listening is a real skill and it isn’t what you think it is and probably isn’t what you do either. It is something very few of us have mastered. It’s the ability to hear exactly what is being said without the noise of our own inner dialogue competing with it.

More often than not, we have two competing conversations going on at the same time. What do they mean? Is this personal to me? How do I feel about it? How should I respond? Am I hurt, excited or confused?

Listening whilst quietening our inner dialogue will set us free from just responding. Responding carries itself upon an instinctive and emotional raft of competing dialogues. It’s like a reaction to what is being said rather than an understanding of it. It’s simply becomes nothing more than an emotional response. Really listening, so we fully hear, understand and reflect upon ALL replies available to us, is of a much higher level of integrity.

By responding, it means that the first things we engage are our feelings. We then apply it to our emotional bank of experiences. Finally, we consider our framework of beliefs to filter it through our values. Our first instinct is either to show our hurt/excitement or to try and ensure that our response doesn’t hurt the feelings of the other person.

This is just a soup of emotions and experiences. By doing this we prevent ourselves from learning something new. We cannot truly hear what is being said and what is really meant by the other person. We stifle our own growth and limit our exposure to new experiences. We make it fit us and not them.

We really must take the needle off the old records and listen to what is new, if we truly want to hear and grow.