It is becoming increasing clear to me that one of the most important elements of effective communication is curiosity. To actually come to a real understanding, we must be curious enough to want to know what the other person is intending.
Our habitual manner of listening is to, if we have been taught manners, wait until the other person stops or at least pauses and then jump in with our own thoughts, reactions, conclusions, etc. In reality, though, most of us just jump in to the conversation, mid-stream, interrupting the one talking. We have little skill in waiting. We just have to put our voice in with our views.
It is amazing we ever get to any productive end. And often we do not. What we often get to is pain. Ours and theirs. And soon the words take on a sharp edge of blame and defense.
With repetition, this type of interaction takes what was may once have been a loving relationship or a productive work relationship and destroys any warmth or respect that was felt there.
My question to you is, what happens when we engage in conversation with a curious nature? What happens when we put aside our own thoughts and responses long enough to ask questions that bring clarity of meaning in what the other is saying? What would it be like if we met the other person with words such as, “I am wanting to really hear you. Am I right in understanding you to say…..?”, or “I don’t understand. Would you say it again?”
With this kind of curiosity in listening – wondering what is the true meaning in what is being said and staying with listening until the other person says, “Yes. That is what I mean.” – opens the door to connected conversation. With this deep, curious way of listening reactive anger simply cannot exist, even while you may not agree with what is said. What becomes an integral part of conversation is understanding and from the place of understanding decisions and actions become solid. K.B.
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its reason for existing.”