I offered one of my clients the experience of stepping into different ways of being and noticing how those felt. While we were on the phone he stood up and moved around his office into different spots representing these positions: listening from the position of being the expert and being right; listening from being totally curious, open, and accepting, listening from solving the other person’s problem, and listening from being willing to learn something he didn’t know. These four positions are somewhat similar and there may be finer distinctions, but what he discovered made a big difference to him. After trying on these ways of being, he said, “I listen from the position of being the expert and that is why I’m tired all the time.”
His comment opened my eyes to the common experience many of us have of being tired, feeling alone, and often a bit scared. The exhaustion from being on all the time, for giving it our all, for having answers, knowing things and being right is an indicator of a kind of epidemic in our culture and certainly in our workplaces. The stress of keeping that up, continually believing that we are here to give, figure it out, push, and make things happen is creating a culture of doing, busyness, and extreme fatigue.
When we are willing to sit back, be open, and be curious about what is happening; that thing that is happening can inform us. What is this problem trying to tell us? I wonder what might be possible from here? What if we all took a breath and allowed what is happening to show us the way to something new? I wonder if my colleagues and those who report to me will see something none of us would have thought of if we had not taken the time to be curious?
Try noticing your ways of being when you think you are listening. Challenge yourself to be honest with yourself. Remind yourself that until we are conscious of something we cannot change it or become intentional with it.
Listening is an art. Listening to, for, and from can be the beginning of an exploration that might just change everything.