One of the most undervalued elements of good communication is listening.
And there are many ways to listen.
Active listening is the art to give full attention to what is being said. It’s about being present to the other, that is giving him undivided attention. Active listening puts the priority on understanding what is being shared over being able to reply.
Generous listening is the ability to listen to the other and see who they are, perceive them with and through their values. It is about being able to put oneself in their shoes while remaining able to discern what belongs to the other and what to oneself. It’s a way to listen that involves seeking to understand the person with what they are sharing, not only what they are sharing.
Empathetic listening then is the attention we bring to a conversation to sense what the person is feeling. When sharing a story people live the story and have different emotional states as they share, we can sense them.
All of them invite us to give our full attention to the other while listening. Much of the information gathered may then be used to assist the other or help them see that they have been seen and heard.
But listening can also do something different, it can create the space for others to share and open up. While listening, try to leave space for more. There is no need to fill the open space. You can just give your ear and wait to see what is happening. It is creating space for the conversation to breathe. And it is being present to enjoy the pathways of the conversation as they unfold. It is a time to let yourself be surprised by the yet unheard stories.
Not all conversations we have will need to serve a purpose or reach a goal. Some are the goal in itself.