Listening Skills: How You Listen Is How You Do Everything

photo of lily pads with listening skills quote | Dianna Bonny Photography

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending an author seminar. On all levels it was a mind expanding experience, because it made me realize how far I have come, how far I have to go and that there are some amazing people in the world doing really incredible, good work.

I was inspired and overwhelmed in the same breath.

Writing a book has definitely been one of the most healing parts of my journey. I really didn’t know what I was doing when I started out, and I had some naïve notions about the process. I was not aware of the marketing arm of this business. One does not just write a book, sit back and relax. Writing is actually a very small part of the process.

The very encouraging news is that in writing my blog in tandem with the book, I managed to unwittingly create the coveted platform that every agent and publisher will tell you is essential, mandatory and not optional. Did I make that clear? I was amazed at the number of writers I met who thought they could focus on the writing and the platform would somehow magically appear.

On the flip side, in spite of the fact that I have this blog and all the social media accouterments, I still have a very long way to go in taking my message to the places I want it to go. This is the overwhelming part, but I am inspired and encouraged nonetheless, because I met some wonderful souls who shared deep insights about this part of the process.

I spent a lot of time meeting people and really trying to listen and learn. I am constantly reminded that listening is a very practiced skill. Unfortunately, not many do it very well. When I went to a writer’s retreat with Jen Louden, she had us do a great exercise to practice: Grab a partner. For three minutes, the first person speaks without interruption about a topic. It can be anything, but I think we answered the question, “Who am I?,” which is hard to do for three minutes. Go back and forth.

The important part is the listener role. No speaking allowed. Nodding is ok, eye contact a must. It is fascinating to notice how often the urge to interject or interrupt occurs. I found that often I was wanting to answer their question, offer advice or share a similar experience that might help them. It is very curious to watch this inclination that actually removes one from the act of listening. It made me wonder about the conversations in my life and how much information I might have missed out on.

There is a wonderful description of this exercise here on Cheng-Meng Tan’s Search Inside Yourself blog.

At the conference, when I felt myself veering off into the territory of interrupting someone, I noticed that it was usually born of trying to look like I knew what I was doing, which I don’t, so I just closed my mouth and very intently soaked up the information stream being shared with me.

I think it is possible that the way we listen is a reflection of how we do everything in life. There were some very high level people at this conference, and the one thing I noticed about them is that they really lean in and listen to the people in front of them.

Are you a mindful listener? Do you have any insights into cultivating this forgotten and much needed skill?


Who is Dianna Bonny?

Hi, my name is Dianna Bonny. It’s my mission to candidly share my journey with you. For me, it’s all about the healing: to create a radiant healing energy for others who have befallen a similar fate. Together, we can forge beautiful lives of belonging and connection. Thanks for joining me today! I look forward to hearing from you.

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