Are you really with me? Listening is the key to really connect to others.
I have recently noticed something about myself which I didn’t like too much, and which I made a conscious decision to change. When conversing with someone, at times I had something on my mind which was preoccupying me, so that I could not really be present with somebody when they were talking. At other times, I was so eager to say something, because I had thought of a point which related to what the other person was saying that I actually interrupted. Yet again, on other occasions I was thinking about what I might say in return that I wasn’t actually focussed on the words of the other person.
So I decided to conduct an experiment. Well, it shouldn’t have really been an experiment. It should have been a philosophy for conversing that I always adopted. This is what I am now aiming for after discovering the rewards of what I was about to discover. That was, I decided to listen with my whole being to my conversation partner and only on that.
Conversations became richer, and I felt actually really and truly connected to the other person. I realised how much the other person had in common with me, and would later ponder that all humans are essentially the same – we all have had similar experiences in one way or another they shared a common denominator.
I focussed on the meaning of what they were saying, the feelings expressed and maintained eye contact. Here is what I noticed:
*Conversations became richer and more enjoyable as I really felt that I connected to the other person, realised their common humanity and how much, in one way or another, we had in common.
*I felt I could be more empathetic as I literally could put myself in their shoes and imagine how they must have been feeling and thinking in the situations they described to me
*I no longer felt socially shy or awkward. When I stopped worrying about what I might say and instead focussed on them, conversation became natural as responses naturally flowed from being tuned in to what they were saying
*I felt connected – I really desired to be there for the other person, and even though I will never know, I think perhaps people know when you are really listening, and only just nodding or speaking absent-mindedly.
Now I don’t see this process as effortful or unnatural, but something I am eager to do as much as possible. Listening, not talking, really is the key to true connection.