Listening is so much more than understanding those around us. Being conscious of the three types of listening can transform how you relate to others – and to yourself!
You can listen to the audio blog, or read the article below.
First of all, there is a big difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is automatic. Listening is not – listening is a skill.
Outer listening is the process of making meaning from the sound that we hear. Outer listening is a skill. There are personal filters that colour or cloud our outer listening. Our interpretation of one sound might have different meaning to you than to someone else.
Outer listening is not passive. It can be a conscious process. Improving your outer listening can transform your experience of the world.
Inner listening is the process listening to that little voice inside our heads. For many people, their inner voice is very critical. It’s the voice that says, “You idiot. You did it again… Don’t you dare get on that dance floor… Don’t put your hand up… Don’t do that.”
Our inner listening can be born from past hurt and embarrassment. And it can often end up driving the show and limiting our confidence.
Here’s a transformational realisation about your inner voice. You’re not the one who’s speaking. That voice is not you. You are the one who’s listening.
This realisation can give you tremendous power. You realise that you are more like the king on a throne. You can dismiss the voice’s suggestions if they’re not useful. And you can also reduce the voice’s negative impact with positive affirmation exercises. There are many practical exercises in How to be Heard.
Inner listening is very powerful.
We do not listen to every person in the same way. We have individual listening for individual people.
Think of a partner or a friend, and how you listen to them. Well, other people have that type of listening for you too. This listening is shaped by our behaviour, and by the filters of the person listening to us.
If other people have a listening for you, it’s important to remember that you are always speaking into that listening. Thankfully, a listening can change. You can create it as you go.
It’s a grave mistake to assume that everyone listens in the same way as you do. Before every conversation, ask yourself, “What’s the listening here?” Try and realise what the listening is, and amend your content to it.
You will get far better results in life if you ask yourself what’s the listening and speak into it.
If you’re looking for practical exercises that can transform your listening skills, check out How to be Heard, which is out in paperback, audiobook and ebook.
I was taught this exercise many years ago by a wise old friend named Charlie. I was bemoaning someone being in my way and Charlie put his hand on my arm.