Has someone ever given you the gift of really listening to you?
Not listening to judge, or fix, or to see when they can jump in with their own problem or story, but simply giving you their full, undivided presence and attention?
If you have had this experience, you may have noticed that when someone is holding the space for you, not judging, seeing you as creative, resourceful, whole, you often are able to release your pain or anger, or talk yourself right in to your own solution.
This technique is called “Echo Listening”.
Recently a client came to me who was challenged in her relationship with her mother. We had worked together previously, with great success. Her mother’s complaints and criticism about her and her husband, which has been almost non-stop, had greatly reduced. This, however, was just “one of those days”.
As I gently listened to her story, not judging, not advising, just giving her my full attention, she quickly moved through first anger, then frustration, then some sadness/resignation, ending in laughter, as she remembered that whenever her mother said something hurtful, her response was “Ouch!” – just letting her mother know the effect of her remarks.
My part was to listen, and then acknowledge her quick shift and wisdom.
When a person comes to you with either gossip or a complaint, rather than sympathizing, or joining in or trying to change their mind or fix them, simply listen. Notice their body language, notice their tone, stay present and neutral. Allow your own body language and facial expression to be quiet. Remain silent.
You are given the other person the gift of actually beginning to listen to themselves, to notice and bring to their own awareness what they are saying, what judgments they are making, what patterns of behavior are showing up, again.
There is nothing for you to do. You are trusting that as the other person really begins to hear themselves, they can make their own corrections, create their own solutions, and you get all the credit for being such a great listener!