Listening with HEART

In conversations that matter it is always important to speak gently so the other person can keep listening; to be honest and share your own thoughts and feelings; to be open to hearing what is being said and allowing it to influence your own ideas; to be specific and use examples for clarity and to keeping talking until a mutually agreeable plan of action emerges.  The acronym GHOST helps people to remember these elements. Gentle, Honest, Open, Specific Talk.

Listening is also a skill that has several elements to it.  To listen deeply the listener can learn to listen with HEART.

Hush:  Be still and centred. Focus on the content, the process and response of the speaker in the moment.  Quiet your own thoughts and feelings and honour the speaker with your attention.

Empathise:  Place yourself in the others context.  Image what it might be like for them. This is a quiet empathy that allows you, the listener, to feel their pain or joy and to walk a mile with them. Be curious about how it is for them.

Attend:  Pay attention to the words, tone of voice, pace of speech, changes in intonation, and changes in body position or facial expressions.  JUST NOTICE. What do you see and hear that will help you better understand what is going on?

Reflect:  As you attend and empathise, reflect back what you experience with your own body and facial expressions.  Act as a silent mirror for the speaker so they can see what they are projecting.

Trust:  Trust that the speaker is telling his or her truth.  They are doing the best they can with what they know.   The speaker will know if you are genuine with your acceptance of what they are saying.  Know and trust that what they are telling you is what is true for them.

 Listening deeply … with HEART … gives the speaker the gift of attention that will lead to them sharing information that may not otherwise have surfaced.  Once you have listened … until they are finished … then you can prove that you were listening with the POWER tool.  Paraphrase, Open questions, WAIT, Empathise, and Reframe give the speaker evidence that you have heard what they have said and gives them a chance to correct any misconceptions or assumptions that the listener may have made. 

All three tools, GHOST, HEART and POWER and their elements add to the quality of the conversation which improves the quality of the relationship. In February, which is HEART month, remember to Hush, Empathise, Attend, Reflect and Trust so that your relationships can grow and be sustained.  check out our You Tube Video on the Elements of the Listening with HEART skill.