Be Aware of How You Listen to Improve Your Growth

In a previous newsletter we talked about one of three ways of listening, “being with.” What are the other two ways of listening? One is to agree with whatever is being said, and the other is to disagree. We often listen from a standpoint of whether we’re going to agree with what’s being said, or whether we’re going to disagree. This is listening with a filter. It prevents us from being present–or “being with”–the person we’re talking to. Here’s an example. When one of our multi-level clients talks to someone about a business opportunity, one response might be, “Oh, multi-level. That’s a pyramid scheme.” Because they’ve heard something about multi-level marketing before, the client is being present to agree/disagree, not present with the person speaking with them. Or, the response could be positive. “Oh, network marketing, I’ve heard about that.” In this case the client is listening from an agree standpoint, but they still have a filter up. They’re not being present to the person right in front of them.

We teach the three ways to listen at the Personal Mastery seminar for a reason. Most people show up with a mindset, “What you’re saying doesn’t fit with what I say, so I disagree,” or “What you’re saying does fit with what I say, so I agree.” Because the focus is on agreeing or disagreeing, all they can possibly end up with is what they already know. There’s no chance to discover anything new. Since to think is to create, and the person’s thinking hasn’t changed, they haven’t discovered anything new. They can’t grow. They’re stuck. What’s at work here is subconscious thinking, which makes ninety-nine percent of our decisions for us. But, unless we’re aware of our subconscious thinking, we’ll be unaware of why we make the decisions we do. It’s like driving down the road of life blind. How can we have revelations about our subconscious thinking so that we can get unstuck?

  • Practice being with. Keep your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical natures present.
  • Notice what you’re experiencing in terms of your feelings and behavior.
  • Ask yourself: What thinking is causing that feeling or behavior?

When Brian went through West Point, he had the perception that he was very honest. If you lie, cheat or steal, they throw you out. Later, in an exercise set up by his mentor, Tom, he had to reveal to a group of people what really mattered to him and what he wanted to improve on. Brian said that he wanted to be more organized. In the greater scope of his life, that was not what really mattered to him! What Brian really wanted was a wildly romantic, long-lasting relationship. But he was afraid to tell people that, because he was afraid of what they might think. Well, to think is to create. Brian examined the thinking that generated my behavior and noticed two things. One, his behavior was run by what other people thought of him, and two, he was not honest about revealing everything there was to reveal. As Brian related that to relationships, he saw why he lacked the intimacy he really wanted and why he didn’t have a wildly romantic, long-lasting relationship. Brian was honest — he didn’t lie — but he found it very difficult to let the walls down and be open with his feelings. Once Brian saw that, he was able to make a shift and grow from there.

How are you listening? Share your experience in the comments section below.


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