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Listening 4.0 - 5.0

The last blog post here was about deepening listening skills and focused on what I label Listening 1.0 to Listening 3.0. I mentioned that while it was a transformational upgrade for many of my clients, and my own goals, some clients (and a couple of my own objectives) were still only getting incremental progress, making headway by a degree here and there, sometimes 5 or 10 degrees, but not life-changing. That’s because Listening 3.0 was still listening from the rational mind. It discounted, pushed away, minimized or skipped over the emotions that arose around the struggle, the beliefs, with their assumptions and biases. My own upbringing and professional experience told me that emotions were to be left at home, they were not welcome in professional environments (or even in personal ones, at least in my family). The message I received growing up and as a young leader was that we overcome our emotions through willpower, and we get the job done. Unfortunately, feelings about beliefs and assumptions color perspectives in a way that creates an invisible barrier, a circle of armor around the heart of the challenge. This is where Listening 4.0 came online: honoring those feelings and emotions as offering self-protection. When explored, it turned out that these emotions surfaced values and wisdom that were meaningful to the client (and to myself!), and that needed to be held up to the light of reality and tested for accuracy. But Listening 4.0 isn’t just about valuing emotions. It’s not even just about valuing and willingness to feel them. It’s a willingness to listen to other people’s emotions with your heart, your gut, and all your senses, not just your head. What an immense difference this made to the degree of change. Even so, this was easier to do in my professional capacity when the risk was fairly low, than in my personal life. Listening 4.5 upgrades this willingness to listen from the heart as a way of being, rather than a way of what we think of as listening. I’ve been settling into this level over the last couple of years. You’re wondering what Listening 5.0 is? That’s what I’m growing into now. It’s the ability to listen with the knowledge that everything is as it needs to be, that complexity, ambiguity, and paradox are all around us always. To react and struggle against current reality is a fruitless waste of energy. This doesn’t mean allowing everything and doing nothing. It doesn’t mean action isn’t good and necessary…it usually is! I'm finding that what informs that action, though, is a mindful awareness of how I (or my clients) perceive the situation, the beliefs, assumptions, and emotions that would otherwise grip me (and them) invisibly, and so limit my (or their) options. This level of awareness is what allows our passions and values to drive our ability to create the changes we wish to see, in ways that bring out the best in us and enliven us, rather than depress and drain us. Interested in learning more? Come attend a playshop...new dates coming soon!