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Just As We See Through Our Minds, We Also Listen Through Our Minds; Not Our Ears

Not too long ago, I was at a shareholders’ meeting for a business I became part of about a year ago. There were many of us there, but I have not met most of them as the communication was mostly done via text and there was one key person I communicated most with.

We were trying to resolve issues that the company was facing, and the arguments got heated sometimes, and in general, everyone was there with the intention to make sure everything worked out well.

At one point, someone took charge of the situation and started “to chair” the meeting. I wanted to know who this person was, and so I raised my hand and politely asked him who he was. Now, this is where it got interesting for me.

He was very defensive at the beginning, and he said that he was a shareholder like everyone else and he felt he had to do something. Which I was not against. But in his mind, he thought that I was questioning him, and he went on to say: then why don’t you take charge! Woah I thought.

Luckily someone said to him: she just wants to know who you are as she has never met you. So all was well again.

I cannot presume to know what was going on in his mind but I can say for sure that he did not listen through his ears to my words.

Have you personally ever had an experience of presuming that someone is saying this instead of that? I have. We all have done it. And this inevitably caused unnecessary communication issues.

Why is it so challenging for us to listen to others through our ears?

It is because, we filter everything through our minds, through our experiences, our present mindset (including moods, mental stability), our past, our future goals, our education, and so on. The filtering process is pretty complex, and this is why no two people can ever have identical thoughts about something. The filtering process is quite sophisticated that it makes us who we are, it moulds us to become what we hope to be if we take control over this filtering process.

This is why, it is often said that we can tell a lot about a person just at the things they laugh about, or not. In my training, we use this method to see:

  • if they have a sense of humour,
  • at what level of consciousness they are at (in other words how evolved they are on the intellectual level),
  • if they quick-witted,
  • are they blinded by cultural/racial/religious differences,
  • how clear are they psychologically,
  • and what are their blind spots?

It is a complex system, isn’t it? It is almost like psycho-profiling someone just through what they laugh about. This, I have found to be of greatest value in how I can assist someone in the coaching process. Of course, we do not just use humour; we can also pick up a lot just through normal conversations.

So indeed the key to communication and listening to others, is to listen openly and not allow our filtering process to blindside us. By doing so, we can truly listen and make the communication count.

by Shamala Tan

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