Its not just a title to a pretty bad, slightly sexist song out of the 90s, but also a concept I have been thinking about lately. Don’t get me wrong, if you want to say something, please do. You should always always get what is off your chest and you should not stop talking till you think it is done. If you are going through a breakup you can’t get over, talk it out. So what if you annoy your friends, trust me they will go through the same thing and ask the same of you when their time comes. If there is something on your chest – if you want to tell someone how much they mean to you or want to give someone a compliment, please do talk your heart out.
Yet, in many situations in life you will be asked to listen. Be it during your education, at home with family, out with friends or in a work meeting, you will be more powerful if you rather than talking, chose to listen. As a coach, that is our main tool and I notice myself needed to do more of it in every day life when I leave my coaching hat behind. There are a couple of reasons why this will benefit you:
1) You will become a better friend/ family member/ employee. You will bascially become a super human. The power listening to someone has is incredible. If you make someone feel heard and acknowledged, your relationship will improve. At the end of the day, its all we really want – for someone to hear us. Be that person for someone and watch your bond strengthen.
2) When I said super human, I meant it. It is a super power because suddenly you will hear things you have never heard before. You will notice that people pick certain words or find themselves in patterns. For example one of my friends always repeats “As if I wasn’t capable” – or “They don’t think I am capable”. She keeps repeating that word and sometimes I am surprised at the context, where I felt it never had anything to do with her capabilities, it did. I was able to say “Amber you are so capable!” It gave me insight into what was actually bothering her. This is very helpful at work, when your boss talks about what is important to him, you can hear out the different aspects that are important between all the noise of words.
3) The current Dalai Lama said the key to happiness is compassion. I believe that listening is one key factor in compassion. Being able to hear what triggers people, what calms them, what drives them and what worries them will help you understand them and find compassion. In the end we all want the same things – we want to be seen, understood, validated and accepted. Yet due to our own personal histories these things are defined differently. Sometimes it even seems like we speak different languages (well technically we do, but thats beyond the point). If you can figure out how people tick, it can help you understand people better and find compassion. Which in the end, will make you more compassionate.
The best way to start listening is just to say less. People will tell you all kinds of things if you leave them space to speak. They will tell you more about themselves than you would ask (trust me I am a coach) and you will become a more understanding, better person if you do.