This is a meditative and contemplative space. A sacred shrine where you need to enter by leaving your identity robe behind. A space, which is not passive but alert, attentive and receptive. A zone of completeness with the person in conversation and your mind is not wrestling with what you hear, with your inherent assumptions. It’s a risky journey where you need to lose control and embrace the unfamiliar, waiting for those surprising moments where the Jigsaw puzzle falls into its place.
Deep listening is the most important ingredient for a meaningful conversation. A journey into the other’s world — a privilege to see the world from their context. Everything that is happening in this space is important — tones, intonations, body language and moments of silence. Resisting the temptation to ask questions, yet keeping the rhythm of the conversation through eye contact or a positive gesture.
In a question-answer format, you always get discrete packets of information, which often gives an impoverished understanding of the other person. The subjective context of the person needs to be understood before we can arrive at an objective understanding. For this to happen, we need to be interested in that person and resist the temptation to come across as interesting. We need to nurture a space, which allows for a meandering conversation, where the person is reflecting and talking, and thus develop a sense of them through the conversation. Unveiling to them and at the same time unveiling to us. It needs the courage and spirit of going on an expedition and trading off settling for the comfort of a guided tour.
A conversation that emerges from deep listening always leaves you enlightened. Our hypotheses are often turned over its head and we are left humbled. To skillfully navigate a conversation through deep listening demands the person to be at the same time an insider and an outsider. Complete presence yet reflective. Deep listening is seen as a soft skill but in reality, it’s a hard skill that needs to be cultivated and practiced.
In an era where noise dominates, allowing spaces of silence through deep listening is where conversation, understanding, collaboration, and effective solutions can emerge.