Listening, the miraculous superpower

The importance of listening in relationships

Have you ever said the words, “Listen to me”?  Or maybe even shouted them?

It unfolded on an ordinary day, where my other job as “Mum’s Taxi” had me shuttling my kids home from basketball practice.  The younger one filled the car with her animated conversations.  In my mind, I was engrossed in conceptualising a series of posts centred on “Listening”, ironic huh?   Amid her continuous dialogue, I intermittently responded with “hmm?” and “Oh…mmm.”

We got home and into the house, and she was STILL talking.  Much had happened in her world, but I couldn’t have told you what.

That’s when she approached me, seized my face, and said, “Mum, will you just listen?” No rudeness—just exasperation.

My other daughter is trying out being a teenager.  She is not as verbose as her sister.  With her, as with her dad, their communication is not as wordy and is buried deeper.  It takes other skills to listen to them well and allow them to get to the bottom of things.  The ability to read the nonverbal cues is ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED.

How are feeling about your listening skills, or being heard?

There are many and varied reasons why you might not feel heard. Here are just a few:

  • Your preferred communication style vs the listener’s communication style;
  • Your response to feeling unheard;
  • The listener’s boundaries;
  • According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the listener’s “attentional space” is just 120 bits per second[1].  (Consider a 64-bit dual-core computer with a 2GHz processor and straightforward architecture doing one instruction/cycle – 128000000000 bits per second).  And they have their darned smartphone in front of them;
  • Stereotypes leading to assumptions about who you are and why the listener should pay you attention…or not;
  • The listener does not have relationship-building strengths in their top 5 (have mercy on me; I’ve only got one!)  You can check out the CliftonStrengths in the Relationship Building domain here: https://www.gallup.com/cliftonstrengths/en/252083/relationship-building-domain.aspx, and if you want to know more let’s have a chat: jacqui.kami@drjacquikami.com;
  • Assumptions on the speaker’s part that they know what you’re saying or going to say;
  • You struggle to share things that are deeply important or hurting;
  • And many more.

I thought I was pretty good at listening.  I went into coaching because I believe people are miraculous and that the treasure within needs to be brought to light and a great part of that can happen through listening. Life has just shown me there are many more levels I need to go through to be a master listener.  I want to level up faster, so I’ve been doing a lot of reading, learning, and a little listening (hmmm).  All this research has shown me we all need to work on our listening.  But who has time to consistently learn to get better at something we already do passably well? (Funny, isn’t it, we’re prepared to go and spend three years of our life or more gaining knowledge but not nearly so willing to even spend half that time working on something so fundamentally important as listening!)

I’d like to invite you on a journey to being a better listener.

Where are you at with your listening skills?

[1] Csikszentmihalyi M.  2014. Flow and the Foundations of Positive Psychology The Collected Works of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  Springer Dordrecht Heidelberg NewYork London. https://hrenatoh.net/curso/nadigi/livro%20flow%20experience.pdf

About the Wayfinders' Blog

The Wayfinders’ Blog helps individuals, teams and organisations discover and develop their unique strengths. I provide valuable insights and practical tips to my audience empowering them to develop their talents into strengths and achieve their goals.

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