At the heart of every relationships is deep listening and it is characterised by giving our full attention to understand, acquire information, care deeply and be able to receptive to more subtle nuances of communication. Deep listening offers those we are listening to the generosity of being heard and seen fully and it's fair to say there is a real deficit in todays culture of deep and active listening.
“Paying attention is a form of reciprocity with the living world, receiving the gifts with open eyes and open heart.”― Robin Wall Kimmerer.
Feeling like one is not being seen or heard in a relationship is one of the biggest reasons that brings people to counselling and therapy. Having your story heard and being listened to can offer you understanding, healing and most importantly connection. When we practise deep listening we are self-aware (mind, body and feelings), aware of internal and external context, we orient in the present moment mindfully and let go of distractions in order to be attentive. When we listen to others we are more likely to feel listened to also.
Some ways we can practise deep listening include:
• Paying attention to body language and facial expression
• Cultivate empathy and validate what you're hearing
• Establish eye contact and a warm smile
• Don't listen in order to respond or try and fix something
• Noticing the tone in the speakers voice
• Listening for meaning and understanding the speaker is trying to convey
• Let go of your own thoughts and be open mindfully
• Reflect what the person has told you empathically
• Allow pauses and ask open ended questions for clarification
Next time you get in a discussion with your partner try putting some of these tips into action. If you feel you're not being seen or heard then you may want to talk to your partner about it and share some of these ideas to practise together. When you feel heard and understand the quality of your relationship improves.