Or how to listen so he'll talk and how to talk so she'll listen.
Listening intently to another person may just be the most amazing gift you can offer. I used to work on the 24/7 suicide crisis line in France and we were trained in Carl Rogers non-directive empathetic listening skills. When a call would come in, I would greet the caller with, "Hello, SOS Amitié." And wait for the person to speak up. Sometimes it would take a rather long moment, moments in which hesitations and silences give a lot of information to the intuitive listener. When they would speak, I was totally focused on them. I would not interrupt, offer advice or suggest any course of action. Through open ended questions, I would guide the caller to opening their own doors to their own inner solutions. And sometimes, they would just go on in a monologue for 20 minutes and all I would do was nod my head or give them a hmmmm, and leave them more space. The end of the call always went something like this, “I feel so much better. Thank you for everything you said to me!” Most of the time, all I said was hello and good-bye.
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How would you define this kind of communication?
It’s not really a full-blown conversation, is it? It’s more like offering what I call “The Gift of Gab” to another person. They get to gab and you get to generously listen. I know how challenging this can be for both men and women!
It's no secret that one of the big relationship challenges are the different communication styles between men and women, As women, we often think out loud, start a story from the Garden of Eden and take a century to get to the point, weaving around through the entire history of the world in what we call goddess bonding, lingering over coffee, Girls Night Out or Stitch and Bitch. We talk nearly non-stop and we don’t always notice or get it when some people’s eyes glaze over with way too much information. Can you relate?
Men just want to bottom line it, get to the point, answer one question at a time and have time to mull over the answer rather than blurting it out. This will be discussed in another blog, but for the moment, ladies, remember not to stack your questions and count to 30 before you jump in with an impatient, "Did you hear my question?"
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But back to active listening basics. When we really have something to share, both men and women could often use some real listening skills. My example was intuitive listening, the deepest and most valuable kind of listening you will master. Listening at this level allows you to hear not only what is spoken, but what isn’t, to hear what is said between the words and sense the energy from the silence, the intonation, or the liveliness of the other person. When you listen at this level, you are able to connect at a very deep level with the speaker, engage with them, shift their energy and inspire them to confidence and action.
This is a profound experience and it’s in these moments where true rapport and trust is established, the foundation of all your relationships. This enables a buy-in, the resolution of conflict and real potential for creating, cultivating and communicating.