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Do you listen autobiographically?

Do you sometimes get to the end of the day and think, I wish I had listened to others more?

I suspect that this is not top of our list of daily regrets; more likely a deep regret on our deathbeds, by which time it is too late.

listen autobiographically

Do you listen autobiographically?

But that is the irony – often we are too busy ensuring that we get our opinions and views across to notice whether we have listened to the opinions of those around us. We don’t stop and notice where we failed to listen.

Listening autobiographically is a phrase I came across first when reading Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. For me, this book was a hugely influential and powerful way of turning conventional ways of thinking completely inside out.

When we listen autobiographically, we listen with a view to responding – we think of our own experiences and only allow the speaker to finish so that we can then express our views or give advice. We interpret what the speaker is saying through our own filters, and therefore make judgments accordingly. We give the speaker little value or respect, because we only want to get our point across. We risk appearing superior, judgemental, too busy, disinterested and shutting down the conversation.

So what does it mean to listen without filtering the words through our own story?

We listen with a view to understand. Of course we may not agree, and may have opinions that are valid and worthy of expression and subsequent discussion. But we earn the right to express those views only when we have properly listened without judgment. To hear the non-verbal, the underlying emotions, the meaning beneath what the speaker is communicating.

This type of listening takes time, effort and practice. But the benefits are huge – real connections with people, understanding the heart and soul of the speaker, new insights, empathy, new shared heights of creativity.

This fits with being more content in our skin, knowing who we are and what we have. When we have that security, we have less to prove to others, and are competing less to get our point across. We can listen, understand, and share as and when appropriate to the other because we know who we are.

Listen – what is your motive? How can we learn to stop listening autobiographically and get better at listening to really understand each other?

Inspired? Encouraged? Get in touch!

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