I’m a talker. I’m a speaker. I teach yoga to large groups of students, host business webinars and workshops. I love to host parties and share fun stories. I have always been loud. Listening has been a skill that has evolved for me over the last decade.
I used to think that talking was the way to reach people.
That you could talk your way out of any circumstance or argument and that any feud between friends could be resolved with a good chat.
I’ve learned over time that I have given too much credit to talking. That with some folks you’ll never be able to talk things out no matter how hard you try. That talking and sharing isn’t always the most helpful tool.
As a coach, I’ve had to refine my listening skills again and again. To really listen and HEAR. To listen for what is being said behind the talking. To intuit emotions and hidden beliefs. To listen for the change in tone, or spaces between the words. I’m trying to really uncover the truth behind what is being said when I’m listening.
Listening and hearing are not the same thing. Listening requires that we put our reactions aside. Listening requires us to be in the present moment. If we’re pulling in stories of the past or ruminating about the what-ifs of the future we are not listening. When we’re irritated, angry or explosive we’re not listening. When we’re triggered we’re focused on the effect of the conversation on us. It’s our ego that gets reactive and it’s not listening.
We’re in a challenging time. A time where in search of listening…..we have actually only created more noise. A time of public ridicule, cancel culture, social media call outs, billboards, and strong divisive opinions that are void of any listening at all.
We’ve forgotten that these opinions are not truths.
That we all come from different backgrounds, cultures, education systems and belief systems that drive our opinions and ways of seeing the world.
We have forgotten that shaming others into holding our beliefs is not an effective tool.
We have forgotten that we are all cut from the same cloth.
That we are all flawed and whole and complete.
That we were created as one for one.
Some of my very best friends have vastly different opinions than I do. We have wonderful conversations where we listen to each other’s side….without shame or shaming. Vegans and hunters, the political left and the political right. Hippies and capitalists. I value these friends because they are all really good at listening. No one states their opinion as fact and they are open to listening, to hearing and sharing without judgment or finger pointing.
We may be 100% against someone else’s ideology but it’s important to remember that shame is never a driving force for behavior or thought change. It’s ok to feel shame, but never to BE shamed. If the purpose of conversation is to shed light on another side of the issue then we have to remember that it is more important to approach things with listening, compassion and empathy….than it is to be “right.”
Can you remember a time when someone has bullied you into sharing their opinion?
How did that go?
Can you remember a time when you have bullied someone into taking on your opinion? How did that go?
I appreciate logic. Cause and effect. I enjoy looking at actions and consequences. If the consequences of said conversation leads to more divisiveness, then it’s time for a new approach. Speaking louder, getting angrier when you’re not heard or bullying others into taking our side has proved to be ineffective.
Try listening. Listen to what’s really being said. Reflect back to the person what has been said and watch the ego’s reactivity. Give more space for silence. Come into the conversation with the belief that this person matters. That they are valuable. See the light in everyone.
It’s through compassion, love, empathy and listening…..that we develop the kind of relationship that makes change possible. When we focus on the values that we are FOR, instead of AGAINST, we create more opportunities for conversations that create change.
The noise has been a bi-product of social media culture. We believe that we should be billboards. That we have to call people out, that we have to shame. Instead we could be expressing what we’re for FOR.
Expressing what we’re FOR, instead of always what we’re against, is a powerful declaration and a way to keep the conversation open. When two parties disagree on a certain issue, they can find more similarities and windows for reconciliation when they seek out what they’re FOR.
It’s here that we find our common humanness.
Our search FOR love
FOR the environment
Leave more space for silence and reflection.
Watch your reactions and emotions.
And watch the magic of listening transform the conversation.
We are all in this together.
With grace and grit
Karla Joy Treadway
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