Many people are talking about what they wish to let go of moving into 2024. I am exploring what it would mean to develop a practice of letting go. Specifically, letting go of whatever my next thought might be while I’m trying to listen to someone speak. It’s kind of oxymoronic – adding a practice or a goal so that I can let go of something…
I’m a talker. I like being heard and to be honest, I think I have some pretty good stories and opinions. However, I’ve realized that nearly everyone thinks that, so I’m missing out on at least subjectively good content by repairing my rebuttal, response, or even reiteration of the ideas of those around me while I should be listening.
So, how do I plan on doing this?
- Eye contact and body language. I will fake it ‘til I make it! Our Becoming a Professional Listener course drives home the idea that we are only as good listeners as others perceive us to be. “I’m listening!!!” doesn’t cut it, unfortunately.
- A regular meditation practice. I will meditate each morning and evening so that I can generally be more present for the people around me. And less reactive. And less irritable. And less sensitive… you get the point. I can be a bit intense.
- Paraphrasing. After someone shares with me, I will repeat it back, in my own words, to make sure I understand what they said. This one requires some tact to sound sincere rather than parrot-like and forced. I guess I’ll gather feedback as I go and try not to ruffle too many feathers. (Ha, pun intended.)
- Journaling. Each day I’ll write down something that I learned from listening, or a positive interaction that I had as a result of being a good listener. This is a practice called reflective learning, and FFCH recommends it as a tool for sustainable behavior change. Ideally, I won’t just have the same goal for 2025 without having made any progress in 2024!
If this resonates with you, check out our Becoming a Professional Listener course and dive deep into a whole slew of skills you can learn to make those around you feel heard – and loved! It might just make them more inclined to listen to you, too. 😉
Ally Fisher is the Convener for Growth at the Foundation for Family and Community Healing, and a Unitarian Universalist seminarian at Meadville Lombard Theological School.