The Power of Listening

Would you like to know the secret to diffusing conflicts before they start? Being magnetic, valued, and sought after? Being confident and relaxed in social settings with friends, romantic partner(s), and co-workers? 

“Yes” and a big 👍!

The secret? The way you listen is the key.

Here’s a real example*: 

I hear a knock on my door. It’s Sam my new client coming to see me for coaching. She flinches when touched and tells me she hasn’t dated in over six years, since the end of a 10-year relationship.

“I long to be with someone and enjoy simple pleasures like reading a book under a tree together,” she shares. “But when I even think about doing that my mind races to ‘then we’ll move in together and get married, then he’ll cheat on me, then there will be yelling and throwing things and awfulness, then we’ll get divorced, then I’ll give up my home and friends and work just to get away’. I don’t think I can go through all that again. It’s safer to be alone. But I’d like to have a hug without dreading it or flinching.” 

Sam longs to be in a relationship but the very idea of getting close to someone triggers the past. (JPYR alert – that’s a Type 3 Jerk). Sam and I sit on the couch and I listen. We move to the cuddle-bed and I listen. Over days and weeks and months I don’t try to fix or change or figure Sam out. I listen. I beam confidence, approval, respect, and curiosity while holding her. And gradually that listening creates safety and trust – not just with me but within Sam herself. She tells the stories of the ‘awfulness’.  I listen to stories of the past that could sweep her up into reliving the anger and self-doubt but each time I stay with her listening with confidence and respect, my breathing staying even, my body staying calm.  I know Sam can do this. I know she can have the relationships she wants.

I hold her and listen when she comes back with stories of first dates and first kisses. It makes a difference. The sharp pain of the trauma fades. Her confidence increases. Now she’s happily 2 years into a new relationship that is kind, respectful, and a good fit for them both.

That’s the power of listening.

Now you might ask, “If you just told all of us, is it really a secret?”

Good question!

Listening as the key to being confident and relaxed is more something forgotten, overlooked, or never learned than technically “secret”. Plenty of people know about listening diffusing conflicts, but it’s easy to forget how powerful listening is especially when emotions are high. Listening can hide in the shadows of our awareness, a wallflower amidst flashier advice like having witty comebacks, getting even, or fake-it-till-you-make-it. It’s time to bring listening to center stage and make it your go-to tool. 

How do we do that?

Try This At Home: 
1) Ask a friend to practice listening with you. (hint: Read this email together)
2) Choose an amount of time to practice and set a timer (hint: Try 4 to 10 min. each)
3) Decide who will Speak first and who will Listen first. (hint: Speaker doesn’t have to talk the whole time. They can wordlessly enjoy the attention of the Listener. It’s your time!)
4) Listener, your job is to beam confidence, approval, and curiosity at the Speaker (hint: Try using laughs, sighs, and other noises but no words. Do not give advice.)
5) Switch roles and reset the timer.
“Try This At Home” is a brief glimpse of what you get in Jerk-Proof Your Relationships, our new online class especially for engineers and geeks who are surrounded by jerks, confusing relationsihps, and loneliness. You’ll learn the skills you need to be calm, stable, and loving your life while being resilient at work, at home, and in bed. You’ll get clear instruction, live coaching, real people, relevant practice, a ton of bonus material, and caring community. This course works or your money back. Enroll today.

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