Learning to Multi-Sensory Listen

listen

Okay.  I’m about to write about something that I struggle with.  It might be because of undiagnosed adult ADHD, or it might be because I’m selfish.  Either way, can I admit something?  I’m not good at listening.  In fact, this post feels to me a lot like that picture above… I talk to you about listening but keep my hand in your face like I don’t want to listen.  So just know, what I am about to write comes from a personal place of learning for me (just ask my wife).

A while back I was reading either a blog post or a book (I can’t remember… I seriously think it’s ADHD) and I came across some valuable information about multi-sensory listening.  This information was SOOOOO good.  It became even more valuable the more I engaged with married couples and soon to be married couples.  Heck, the more I talk with parents and kids… the more this information becomes crucial.  So I want to share with you the gist of what I read.  It was and continues to be so challenging to me and how I relate to others.

The bottom line is that we listen with more than our ears.  That when we learn to Multi-Sensory Listen… we communicate to others 1) I am listening to you & 2) I CARE!

1. LISTEN WITH YOUR EARS

OK.  This one is the no brainer, right?  You cannot listen to what people are saying without hearing them.  But listening with your ears is the most basic form of listening.  The big challenge with listening with your ears is to move from “I heard you and can repeat what you said” to “I am truly LISTENING to you.”  And the way you can communicate that to them is by asking follow up questions.

critical question: “Do they KNOW you care?”

2. LISTEN WITH YOUR EYES

I have to admit, I have been in the middle of conversations with people and “appear” as if I was listening… but I was really looking at something else or paying attention to something else (again… I’m more than positive it is ADHD).  Or even worse… had tuned them out and allowed the “glossed over” look to take place.  People want to see in your eyes that you care about what they are saying and who they are.  Eye contact is a valuable listening tool.

critical question: “Can they SEE you care?”

3. LISTEN WITH YOUR FACE

Expression shows you are listening and that you care.  Panface means your mind is elsewhere and that you couldn’t care less about who is talking to you.  You can say you are listening until you are blue in the face… but the proof is if your face actually turns blue!  The other side of this is to show TOO MUCH expression… It’s just down right creepy.

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Show appropriate expression to display you are listening.

critical question: “Do they BELIEVE you care?”

4. LISTEN WITH YOUR HANDS

When you use APPROPRIATE touch, it communicates to someone that you care about them.  When it is appropriate to give a hug, high five, pat on the shoulder, etc… we should.  Now, we need to read the situation and show extreme care and caution that we are not overstepping a boundary… but APPROPRIATE touch, when used carefully, can be a powerful way to communicate to someone that you not only heard them but are truly listening to them.

critical question: “Can they SENSE you care?”

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry…”  James 1:19

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