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News > Blog > Listening


OW Paul Heywood talks of the importance of listening in today's society.
8 Jun 2020
Therapy is expensive – I found this out myself. I thought my company's private health insurance would cover Psych “challenges” -It didn’t. Despite HR comparing my Cognitive Crisis to a broken leg. I would be covered by a fractured Fibula, NOT an “ambush by Amygdala”. I found my own path through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – month’s of work at my own expense – a great financial expense, but it lives with me perpetually.

Freud’s method of therapy is “talking”. The couch is optional, but the freedom to wander – and we should remember we’re all “nomads” – is one that works because we will more often than not find some resolution ourselves – we only need the time and permission to talk – without judgement, without the need for validation and with love – love is important – in fact Love is all we need….but that’s for another time…

Also, remember that up to 85% of communication is non-verbal, so most of the time we’re “connecting” without an utterance. Our bodies are billboards.

So, we know that listening is a good practice – great. How do we get to the point of someone being read to share, and being there to listen?
Someone needs to initiate – we need to ask a question – and that needs to be “How are you?”
Now as Brits, we stand by our love of Cricket, the inception of Football, the trade of Tea from China with Opium, The Empire – BUT given the “stiff upper lip” is possibly our greatest Achilles heel…..Share our innermost thoughts?!!! We’ll keep sweeping stuff under that carpet.

So, inevitably the question will be “batted away” with “Good, thanks.” Despite your “gut instinct” telling you otherwise.
“Gut Instinct” is a thing. There’s billions of  brain cells in our gut, connected through a neural circuit. Trust it, and it’ll not fail you…

I digress, where were we? Ah yes, “Good, thanks.” That front footed defence reply is nonsense and you know it, they know it, but it’s what we do.
So, we ask AGAIN - “How are you, really?” Hopefully – you’ve pierced their fleshy barrier and metaphorically opened their knicker drawer - It’s important.

Once we’ve done this, we get a truer response, and so begins the foundation of formative communication.

Quite possibly, all you need to do from then on is listen. Your body and face will mirror support, empathy, sympathy and build rapport, which inherently rewards communication continuance – and that’s a wonderful thing.

We don’t have the answers for others, most of the time, despite however many books and/or podcasts we have harvested.
More often than not, we know what is true and untrue ourselves – our challenge is finding the space and permission to do that “digging”.

What to do:
  •  Ask someone “How are you?”
  •  Ask them again “How are you, really?” – Be brave!
  •  Listen – give them the space, freedom, permission to talk.
  •  Do the above as often as you can.

If you can facilitate the above,  maybe we can build a habit that supports societal health and not our personal health, exclusively.


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