Giving someone your undivided attention as you listen intently is both difficult and INPowering. Listening without getting distracted by your own thoughts and self-conversation is akin to a super power. And you can develop it.
Like meditation, INPowered listening requires you to empty your mind and concentrate on a single focus. In this case that focus is what the other person is communicating. Doing so will develop your capacity as an intentional and mindful listener.
The goal is to lose yourself in the speaker’s message. It’s a way of getting inside the bubble of their life with them. When I find myself in this mode, it’s like I’m trying to imagine their life and message from inside them. I totally lose myself in that moment.
Listen to what is said and how it is said
Listen for content and context. They are telling you their story at the moment. When you find yourself anticipating what they might say, or judging what they said, you have stopped listening to the message. Refocus. Just listen to the words and the story that is unfolding. There is context in the story that will help you to remember and understand.
Listen to tone of voice, volume, pauses and hesitations, inflections. There is a rhythm to their speech that conveys something about the meaning of their message: excitement, fear, hope, expectation, happiness, all the range of emotions an individual is capable of.
Watch for the non-verbal cues
Watch eyes, gestures, muscle tension, the rhythm of their breathing. This is part of your focus. Pay attention to every detail. This will keep you from focusing on yourself or about what you will say next. When the speaker stops, you will find yourself having to pause and process what they said before you can respond. This takes discipline. You will have to practice.
Feel the emotions being projected by the speaker
Try to get inside their head about what they are communicating about their hopes, dreams, expectations, disappointments, and so forth. You will find yourself feeling with the speaker–whatever emotions they are expressing.
This skill develops your empathy. When you can listen this deeply, you are finally in communion with them, which is the root of communicating.
Remember, everyone at any point in time is always exactly right. Try to sense that feeling of what it must be like to be them at that moment.
Others are INPowered to express themselves and share at a deeper level because they sense you are really into them and not just waiting your time to speak.