The first step of this journey is listening. Steven Covey explains in his famous work, ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People’ that good listening happens when we ‘reflect the feeling and rephrase the content.’
When you hear the words, make out what exactly he or she is saying; what are their feelings involved and needs expressed. If you can echo it back, but sensitively and in your words, you understood better. And if you’ve supposed wrongly, by repeating in your own words, you now give him a chance to explain again and clarify.
Sometimes it could be different. While you reflect back, he may instantly deny what you said and go on to explain more. This could be because he’s searching within to get clarity. American humorist Mark Twain summed it up well, “I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want.” When you reflect back you help them discover what they want.
As you continue to listen and reflect, not as a technique but with a genuine desire to serve, the person talking to you begins to hear his own voice- he hears his inner struggle, with none of your additional interpretation- your mind is not in picture here; it’s his own thoughts and feelings. And in the process you also truly understand him.
Slowly things fall in place, and he gets clarity of what he really needs. That’s a liberating experience for a person who’s just been understood and a life-enhancing moment for one who offers the service. Once you help a person improve his relationship with self, your bonding with him blossoms as well.
Moving from ‘I’ – the secret of relationships
It’s possible to glorify someone when I don’t mean it; humans are expert in putting on many faces. I could also be obliged to speak good things about someone in a social setting. But understanding another person is different- it can’t be insincere nor can you fake it. By choosing to understand you have appreciated the person far more than mere rhetorical flattery. Many prefer to appreciate because then they don’t have to spend time understanding. And when ‘I’ appreciate, it’s ‘me’ who is speaking. It’s a terrible gratification to our ego and minds to speak or advice others without hearing them out. However, it’s more deeply nourishing when we give satisfaction to the other person that he has been understood.
To be continued…