Learning to listen is learning to love. It involves carrying out an exercise in empathy, understanding and support that, nowadays, is not abundant. If we heal our inner emptiness and free ourselves from our emotional blindness, we will learn to be aware of our needs and those of others.
Surely you have ever exposed a problem or concern to a friend and you have felt that they were not listening to you or that, directly, without having offered you any kind of feedback, they ignored your problems and began to talk to you about their own concerns. Without showing any kind of empathy.
Not listening and not taking into account the other is a type of toxicity that undermines interpersonal relationships, while increasing social isolation. Many global reasons can be sought to explain this problem in our 21st century society. However, the most profound cause, the one that we must modify if we really want to heal this burden, we find within people.
Many live so immersed in their inner emptiness that they are unable to connect or empathize with others. Their particular worldview and their own problems blind them to the emotions and needs of their friends or family. In turn, others also live locked up inside and cannot listen or empathize with them.
WHY DO MANY PEOPLE FIND IT DIFFICULT TO LISTEN TO OTHERS?
The answer lies in the treatment they received in their childhood. How many times did they spend the time they needed? How many times did the adults come down to hear what they were saying? They were hardly heard, supported or sustained. That is why they feel that need to talk about their problems and to be heard.
They carry a deep need for attention to fill the internal void created by the lack of empathy and attention from their elders. To fill this emotional gap, as adults, they are so aware that they are looked at and listened to, that they are unable to realize that other people also have their own needs.
Therefore, in order to be more compassionate to others, they must first heal their past hurts. Thus, deep down, learning to listen is learning to love. First, to love ourselves so that, later, we can open ourselves to others.
BENEFITS OF APPLYING EMPATHIC LISTENING
If we understood all the benefits that we can achieve from listening, we would do our best to practice it much more.
- Listening pushes, us to go beyond ourselves, to connect with others, to open ourselves to other possibilities, new ideas and solutions to problems that have never occurred to us.
- On the other hand, on a social level, listening generates empathy, strengthens the bonds between people, brings hearts closer and creates ubuntu, a feeling of tribe, community, belonging to society.
- Thinking about the group, beyond ourselves, favors cooperation and helps us, in any field, to achieve much better results than working competitively and individually. On a large scale, in international politics, we need to transform the way we relate to others.
KEYS TO LISTENING MORE CAREFULLY
This lack of care in childhood that leads to isolation is one of the serious dangers for the future of our planet. And change begins with learning to listen.
- 1. Listen with your body. Non-verbal language is an essential part of communication. Our gestures and physical reactions speak much more about us than our own words. Your body shows whether or not you are listening, so when you are in conversation with another person, don’t forget to pay attention to your attitude and posture.
- 2. Look into my eyes. In addition to taking care of our gestures, it is important that we maintain eye contact with our interlocutor. Our eyes are the most direct means of connecting with others, since the look focuses attention and helps communication to be more authentic. Look at the other person when they speak to you and look for their eyes when you are speaking to them.
- 3. Don’t get distracted. When we talk with another person, we have to empathize and understand that what they are telling us deserves our full attention. When you’re talking to someone, eliminate all possible distractions (like checking your cell phone or fiddling with an object). If the other person perceives that you are not paying attention, the communication will suffer.
- 4. Nod. It is always important to let the other person know, with simple gestures or words, that you are listening. Nodding your head, small and occasional aha or asking to clarify some detail about what he tells you, will help him know that you really pay attention to his words. In this way, she will feel heard and more open to talking to you.
- 5. Respect the rhythm. All dialogue or conversation has a rhythm that we must not interfere. There is nothing more annoying than being interrupted when you speak. Don’t cut the other person to tell a personal anecdote. If what you have to say is important, keep it in your memory for a moment to comment on as soon as the presentation is over.