Listening with presence is a rare and potent gift we can give others. I often hear people minimize this secret by saying, “I wish I could help in some way other than ‘just’ listening.” Listening with presence means that you give that person your undivided attention and:
- Let go of any preoccupation with your response
- Let go of any judgment about what they are sharing
- Let go of your need to give advice or to ‘fix’ them or the situation (unless they ask–and then still put it back on them by saying, “well, what do you want to do?”)
- Let go of thinking about uttering the dreaded, “you should” or, “I told you so”
- Let go of rushing to tell your story, rather than being with their story
- Let go of any tendency to interrupt—unless you apologize ahead of time
When someone gives you the rare gift of listening with presence, magically, you seem to hear what you are saying with clarity and insight. When you feel completely listened to, you feel more self-accepting and self-loving; a gift that you can then give to others. When you are listened to with presence somehow, it seems, your crisis just got more manageable and less overwhelming. Trust skyrockets between you and the listener because you know that you can count on him or her not to judge you no matter what.
Listening with presence is the ultimate of respect and compassion. When you find yourself being a captive audience, try it. It feels much better than feeling resentful and aggravated and thinking, “won’t they ever shut-up!”
Next time you catch yourself saying, “but, I just listened to my friend.” You might want to pause for a do-over, and think of the gift you gave as a powerful act of love–because it is.