I was reading what discussion group members were saying about partners who may not share our perspective or support our beliefs. So many of us know what it’s like to talk to a skeptical person. Maybe this is a good time to mention something that may be relevant here.
There are many ways to “be with” a person. Sharing our heart and listening are two of them. We all of us enjoy sharing, I know. We’d like to be known for who we are. Unexpressed joy, excitement, and enthusiasm can be an upset, just as much as unexpressed frustration, irritation, etc.
But when we cannot share, perhaps we could remember that sharing is only one road to satisfaction. A second road is listening.
We often fail to consider the value of listening and the way in which listening opens people up. We also don’t consider the contribution listening makes to us – the joy we feel on contributing to another’s wellbeing and seeing them released from pain and stress.
So, if I can’t share in a situation because my partner is skeptical, what I do is switch to listening. Different road to the same destination of fulfilment.
I could write a book on what it means to listen. I listen to the tone of a message, the pitch, the emotion, the metaphors used, on and on. And what I listen for is the secret speaking.
But I don’t try to interpret or project my meanings on another. I look for evidence of that secret speaking in what I just outlined and mirror back only this evidence.
I hear every statement said as a chapter heading and allow the person to develop each chapter.
I’m listening for understanding and not to advise, counsel, control, influence, etc. In fact I refrain from advising or fixing and simply “get” the other person. This is what makes listening listening.
I mirror back what I hear but not so often as to interrupt and only to show the person that I’m listening, If I’ve successfully mirrored back, then that particular section of what needs to be said will now be released because the person speaking knows they’ve been heard.
So I would listen, “get” the person’s communication, mirror back what I heard, listen, get, mirror back, listen, get, mirror back, until the person has completely finished saying what they need to say and experience release.
I only ask questions when I need clarification. I don’t send the speaker in a different direction than the one they want to go in by asking an intrusive or agenda-setting question. I allow them to set the agenda.
I can see where my listening is proving successful. The truth sets a person free. If I’m listening well, the person is getting more and more at the truth of the situation and will be showing more and more signs of release (being set free). They’ll be perking up. Their enthusiasm will be returning, and so on.
I “follow that release.” I overlook statements made that take the person deeper into the upset unless that’s where they want to go. But I listen most closely to what brings release.
Eventually the person sees what there is to be seen from speaking and emerges from the down space they were in.
I take listening seriously. I give all my attention to it when I’m doing it. I know it works to relieve stress in another. And I know that it’s a worthy service.
I listen to my intimates, for as long as they need. And I don’t claim credit when they’re done. I simply let them go to whatever is next for them.
Once a person has spoken so much that the puzzle they are dealing with has become a picture, an “Aha!”, a realization, then I leave them alone. I don’t send them back into the upset by asking further questions about it. I get that the work is done, the result has been achieved, and the subject at the heart of the upset should now be let go of. I allow them to leave, do what they want, remain in silence, etc., as they choose.
I personally experience as much satisfaction from listening as I do from speaking – often much more. Because listening is serving and serving raises love and compassion in oneself.
Very few people, when you listen, are aware of what you’re doing. Later they say that you are a really good speaker, not even realizing that you said very few words, that they did all the talking. They gravitate towards you after that, aware that something happened with you but not knowing precisely what it was.
So if you want a low-stress way of serving your skeptical partners, of getting through this last amount of time before abundance kicks in and the full truth of 9/11 and other events is known, consider listening to your spouses rather than sharing. Sharing may not be in the cards right now but listening is always supremely valuable. And it’s probably the best contribution you can make at the moment.