“The cultural and religious diversity of our communities calls for a way of listening that transcends words and belief systems. Learning to truly listen to one another is the beginning of new understanding and compassion, which deepens and broadens our sense of community.” - Kay Lindahl
In URI, the gift of listening is an important first step in building trustworthy relationships across differences. Listening with the heart helps build relationships and can also transform the person being listened to. Kay Lindahl, a founding Global Council member URI and Cooperation Circle leader, is a Listening Professional who understands listening to be a sacred act. URI continues to benefit from Kay’s “voice” by receiving her listening wisdom and experiencing her powerful capacity to listen. She offers her Top Ten Listening Practices and Daily Practices:
Top Ten Powerful Listening Practices
- Stop talking.
One person speaks at a time. One of the most irritating listening habits is that of interrupting.
- Pause before speaking.
Allow the person who is speaking time to complete their thought, and wait a few seconds before responding. Another variation on this is to ask “Is there anything else?” There almost always is.
- Listen to yourself.
Be in touch with your inner voice. Ask yourself, “What wants to be said next?”
- Listen for understanding.
You do not have to agree with what you hear, or even believe it, to listen to understand the other person.
- Ask for clarification.
If you do not understand what someone is saying, just ask.
- Let the speaker know that you have heard them.
Body language: nodding, facial expressions.
- Be patient and present.
Listening well takes time and your presence.
- Listen with an open mind.
Be curious and appreciative of what you are listening to. Listen for new ideas instead of judging and evaluating.
- Pay attention to the environment.
Stop what you are doing to listen. Turn off background noise when possible; move to a quieter corner of the room; clear your desk.
- Listen with empathy and compassion.
Put your agenda aside for the moment. Put yourself in the speaker’s shoes.
Notice when you:
- Choose to listen and when you choose not to listen.
- Experience the art of listening - being a listening presence with another person.
- Start to interrupt someone and what happens when you don't.
Notice what happens when:
- You give the gift of listening to someone else and what it's like to receive it.
- Someone stops speaking and you ask, "Is there anything else?"
- You let go of your agenda to be present with another person.
Kay is the founder of The Listening Center in Long Beach, California, and author of several books: How Does God Listen?; Practicing the Sacred Art of Listening: A Guide to Enrich Your Relationships and Kindle Your Spiritual Life; and The Sacred Art of Listening: Forty Reflections for Cultivating a Spiritual Practice. See more information.
Read more posts in the Every Voice series, which presents thought-provoking quotes showing how people all over the world give voice to URI.