We are all listening to ourselves and each other every day in different ways, and the quality of how we're listening and being listened to affects us all.
We can be caught up in our own thoughts and not really be listening to someone else. Or we are listening to someone in order to give them an answer, an opinion, or solve a problem.
It's not often that we get really listened to.
What I love about coaching is really listening. Actively listening to what a person is saying, where they are going, as well as in between and underneath what is not being said.
I've been learning about three levels of listening recently. Each level has its own awareness and its own impact. None of them are right or wrong, just more or less useful in different situations.
Level one listening is when we are listening to our own thoughts, who we are inside ourselves. The focus is on yourself, and so the impact of listening is on you. Level 1 is great when you are reflecting, exploring self-awareness, or being coached. It's the place to understand yourself, your values, your beliefs, and see what's getting in your way.
Level two listening is when you listen to what people are saying for things. You're aware of the voice in your head, but you can look beyond it and focus on something else like solving a problem or giving an opinion. This level of listening works well when you're a consultant, or in banter with friends, feeding off each other. Its impact makes people feel seen and heard.
Level three listening is being fully present with someone. It is going beyond the first two levels and really being with someone at the moment. Much like being in a state of flow, you are mindful and mindless at once. This level is really useful as a coach during sessions, its impact becomes transformative because you are listening to the whole person, holding them as creative and capable of finding what they need.
It takes practice to listen at this level and it's not needed all of the time, but I sometimes wonder what would happen if we all spent more time really listening to each other.