Tao of Speaking and Hearing

“Sometimes People won’t listen to what you’re saying, they are steeped in their own conclusions.”

Sometimes we are passionate about our message, but people don’t seem to be absorbing it. The message may be in the form of a live presentation, books, blogs, photos, paintings, music, phone, Skype, or any other form of communication. Sometimes it might be my delivery but often it’s how others are taking in information that matters. Receiving is such a vital part of any clear communication and opens the door to clearly understanding others.

I find that when I listen it pays to check in and discern if I’m listening from a conclusion. In other words, I already made up my mind but am presenting as though I’m hearing what you might be saying out of being polite or friendly. (This is really easy to experience in conversations about politics or religion.) Seeing this is difficult for me, conditioning has implanted hundreds of reactions that are based on conclusions, what’s better, best, good for me, what’s right and wrong, or what’s bad, unworthy, or plain annoying. Reactions come into play immediately without any processing. But it makes a difference if I pay attention to the quality and position of my attention so I can take in and examine what you are saying clearly without any prejudice. I find that at times I’m not listening because I already agree. I miss what you’re saying, there might be things I don’t agree with but will miss them. Once again, listening from conclusion.

When I pay attention to my reaction when listening I can sometimes literally “feel” the resistance to what another person is saying, and in doing so have placed a barrier up to not only the content but a lot of the times there’s an accompanying judgement about the person who delivers the content.

Someone was asking the other night if there is a process or formula for cutting through pre-conclusions. Well, in my case, no there isn’t. But what does seem to make a difference is in paying attention and noticing when I’m listening from conclusion. For me, as soon as I can see the conditioning, my listening stance changes. I automatically focus my attention on the content of the information delivered and quite paying attention to my own need to be right. (That’s what having pre-conclusions seem to be based on, the need to know and be right!)

I had learned this long ago in a workshop given by Cheri Huber, and I continue to find it difficult to notice at the beginning of an exchange. Usually, it comes up later when I may be seeing thoughts rising about the exchange. Sigh, too late. But, as in all things conditioned, I am always glad when I am present and do notice I’m holding conclusions. How we listen to others can make an extraordinary difference in how we process both understanding and relationship.

Have fun this weekend, Halloween is one of my all-time favorite holidays!

Bryan Wagner

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