"You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want" -- Zig Ziglar
You could say that the quality of your relationships equals the quality of your life. There’s only so far you can go by yourself. In order to achieve your full potential and create a deeply fulfilling life, you need the right people in our corner. From love and support to companionship and problem-solving, your relationships can empower and inspire you every day.
There’s a super simple way to cultivate relationships that bring out your best.
All you’ve got to do is use conversations as a catalyst. And when you’re talking, remember to use the three levels of listening.
Let me explain...
Level 1 - Internal listening
The majority of conversations tend to remain at level #1. This is the most superficial form of listening where we listen to speak. Internal listening happens when you interpret what you hear in relation to what the words mean to you.
For example, if someone is talking about a vacation, you’d start thinking about your own vacations and your own experiences. Then, when you get a chance, you start sharing your story with the other person.
Alternatively, if someone was sharing about their latest diet, you’d apply your own judgements and assumptions based on your own experiences of dieting.
There’s nothing wrong with this type of listening, but be aware that your internal dialogue is running the show here. You might have heard what the other person said, but that doesn’t mean you understand where they are at.
Level 2- Listening to understand
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”— Dale Carnegie
Level #2 listening happens when you turn down your inner dialogue and focus fully on what the other person is saying. Instead of being distracted by your own stuff, you listen intently so you better understand what another person wants to say.
This level of listening goes beyond hearing alone. By observing the speaker’s tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions as well as the words, you can better understand what they mean.
As the listener, you demonstrate your understanding by paraphrasing what you hear, making eye contact, mirroring body language, and responding with appropriate nods and affirmatives.
Level 2 conversations are more satisfying from a listener’s perspective because they feel properly seen and heard.
It’s a practice that can take your relationships to the next level.
Level 3 - Global listening
“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”– Carl Jung
Level 3 listening includes everything that happens at level 2 with the addition of intuition.
Have you ever been deep in a conversation with someone only to have a hunch about what they’re leaving unsaid or a strange need to ask a particular question?
If so, that’s global listening - where you’re able to take the context of the conversation and the environment into account to dig deeper and uncover what’s really going on.
This level of listening takes conversations [and therefore your relationships] to deeper levels. That’s because intuition opens doors that nobody even knew existed - until intuition opened them. In turn, your conversations are more satisfying because you end up talking about the meaty stuff that usually stays buried and hidden.
We all want to be seen and heard for who we really are
“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway
Talking can come easy!
After all, there’s always something to talk about - from the weather to sport, to where you’re taking your next vacation.
Small talk topics are great at getting a conversation started, but can you ever really know someone properly if you stick with these ‘safe’ surface-level topics?
Bringing higher-level listening skills to social interactions will transform what you get out of the conversations you have. Instead of making a contact, you can make a friend. Instead of adding a number to your phone, you can make an ally. Instead of boring small talk, you can come away inspired by someone else’s life and insights.
So go that extra mile.
Become aware of when you’re listening to talk.
Then take a pause and see what happens when you shift from level 1 listening into level 2 and even level 3. Make a decision to truly understand who the other person is and what they want to say and enjoy how your relationships deepen as a result.
You’ve got this!