One of the most powerful aspects of being human is the yearning to be understood, and when we think someone listens, or we are taken seriously, and our ideas and feelings are recognised, and we have something of value to share, we can claim happiness.

Communication entails the ability to listen beyond the physiologic traits of hearing. Since listening is a learned skill, it can be retrained. Hearing is the autonomic or involuntary reaction of the nervous system and senses. Listening is a voluntary act that requires concentration and willingness. The listener’s empathy, which is an understanding of what is being said and showing it, builds bonds and improves relationships, and the power of deep listening should not be underestimated.

Listening not only strengthens relationships by cementing connections with another, it also fortifies one’s sense of self. As such, by giving an account of our experiences to someone who listens well, we can hear ourselves, identify our needs, and better see solutions or remedies. Listening is so basic it is often taken for granted. It is especially painful not to be listened to in those relationships we count on for understanding. We define and sustain ourselves through conversations with others, and the response is what makes our feelings, actions and intentions meaningful. Only a small proportion of the message is conveyed through words alone, while the tone in our voice and gestures and other body language signals convey most of the message.

Oct-Dec 2016 Issue

International Center for Compassionate Organizations (ICCO)