Listening is a state of seeking to be changed by the other person.

Listening is less about the ears, than about a state of openness to change.

Hearing is different from all other senses in that it has a buffer, a short term memory of the last 8 seconds that we have heard. This allows us to pay little attention until we hear a word, our name or a silence and this triggers us to scan the last few seconds of audio intently. Most of the time we learn to listen with little attention.

This is a dangerous mode of listening to those whose relationships are important to us. We must learn another way of listening to people who we value and are important to us. We must “listen with our eyes”.

When someone approaches me with the challenge: “I have a really difficult time communicating with my second son”.  My question: “how have you let him change you?”  This is what makes a relationship – a sense that both have the capacity to affect change in the other.  Where I don’t let you affect my views, you will not let me affect your views.  This does not mean that we let go of rationality.  This means we are open to the different priorities that another person uses to view the world.

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How do I become a better listener? Become aware of what level you are listening at.

There are 5 levels of listening:

  1. not listening
  2. hearing the noise, waiting for silence
  3. hearing the words, preparing my response
  4. hearing the meaning from my point of view
  5. hearing the emotion, meaning and point of view of the other person.

Level 5 requires complete attention and is very tiring. It is not necessary that you always listen at this level.

There are times my daughter is talking and she just needs to know that I am here in the room with her. There are other moments when she is sharing something important that has happened and will benefit from level 5 listening.

It is too tiring to always listen at level 5.