The Art of Being Heard

Friday, June 19, 2020

During these very unusual times we may find ourselves spending more of our time around fewer people than ever before. This can be a good thing for some, but it can also be an extremely challenging for others. There is an art to this “together in isolation” thing we have going on right now meaning that the need for patience, personal space and respect is greater than ever as we strive to bring harmony into our homes and relationships. Mindfulness practitioner, coach and best-selling author Susan Piver happens to know a thing or two about this. In her January 2014 Bold Talk on the Art of Being Heard, she shares some practical tips and tricks that can help us to feel heard while honoring the one who listens to us. And interestingly, it has less to do with what is said than how one goes about it.

The first thing to know is that being mindful does not mean the same thing as being peaceful or tranquil. Mindful means being present, open and aware of one’s self and the situation and surroundings in which we find ourselves. Each of these inputs have a degree of influence on the conversation in which we engage with another person. When we want to feel heard it is important that we create an open and welcoming space for the listener. One of the best ways to do this is to begin from a place of confidence and self-empowerment that arises when we are concerned for the comfort of the other person. What do they need in order to hear us? Is it a sense of safety? What about a gesture of respect? Or, maybe if they are just about to run an errand or take the kids for a bike ride another time would be better.

During the conversation our ability to stay present serves us well in our desire to be heard. Can we leave some quiet space, like a pause? Although sometimes pauses can make us uncomfortable, they can also be useful in shifting the energy or in providing time to unearth the crux of the matter. Pauses can happen quite naturally when we are listening to the other person speak and not using that time to figure out what we are going to say next or how to defend ourselves. The pause is there to reflect and to formulate the next thought.

Another key to being heard is to park our agendas, even just briefly, in order to have a conversation that gives us the opportunity to learn more about ourselves and the other person. Curiosity is a good way to check our understanding and assumptions about one another’s positions. A genuineness in our curiosity can foster collaboration. Meaning: together we will get through this (or figure this out). This can also create positive resonance within our relationships which can give us a profound sense of wellbeing.

So, the next time you want to feel heard, think about the influence that you have over how the conversation unfolds. Creating comfort, staying present, allow for the pause and stay curious. These are all tools that add value to our relationship toolkits.

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