The second of our recently formed Community of Practice for Bohm Dialogue Practitioners and Thinkers met to explore the three modes of dialogic listening. We agreed upon a loose structure of silence in order to listen to ourselves supported by a free write for reflection; listening in pairs to practice deep listening to others; and an exploratory dialogue on factors that contribute to listening well and factors that can be barriers to effective listening.
What intention do we bring when we prepare ourselves to listen to someone? Do we intend to listen with respect and a willingness to understand; do we believe that the person speaking has something of value to be listened to and learned from; are we able to give them our full, focused attention.
What quality of listening is required by the person we are listening to? Are they speaking their thoughts and creating understanding for themselves with a silent witness; do they need to hear what they said mirrored back to them; are they looking for advice and guidance; and are we able to establish these needs before we enter into listening with them.
Does the quality of listening required need a quiet space, away from interruption and disturbance. Are there factors that may affect the quality of our listening; hunger, stress, tiredness?
Judgements & Labels
Are we meeting this person with preconceived judgements or labels that will affect our ability to listen with understanding from the get-go? Are we able to notice and suspend these judgements in order to connect with the person, and listen beyond the label.
As we listen are we able to be aware of, tune into, and listen to the physiological occurrences happening in our bodies in reaction to what is being said. Noticing them will bring us a degree of understanding about ourselves, and allow us to inquire into the underlying assumptions, values and beliefs that may be contributing to our response to listening.
Past Thoughts & Feelings
We often listen through a lens of past experiences, thoughts and feelings; does this person or situation remind you of something from the past. Are you projecting previous similar situations onto this person, or allowing the experience of listening to trigger past feelings and thoughts. If we have a reaction such as anger towards a person we often look to them as the 'problem,' however, it is us that is having the reaction. By noticing our emotions and feelings, and inquiring into them, with reference to past thoughts, we can begin to bring a degree of understanding to ourselves and others.
The recording of the check-out reflections from this dialogue can be listened to here.
The next question to be explored is what do we gain from increasing our understanding of each other?