While growing up, most of us probably played the much-beloved children’s game “Telephone.” For those unfamiliar with it, the game basically involves someone whispering a story into another player’s ear, who then whispers it into another player’s ear, and so on and so on until the tale reaches the last player, who then recites it for the entire group. Frequently, though, the final recounting doesn’t match the initial recitation – and often in myriad ways.
On the one hand, it can be quite funny to hear how the story changes from the first player to the last. But, at the same time, the appearance of extensive alterations in the narrative can be no laughing matter, either.
The main point of the game, obviously, is to teach kids how to develop their listening skills, something that’s best tackled early on in life (for a variety of reasons). But, given that exercises based on this premise are today often made a part of programs like corporate training seminars (usually under much more euphemistic or adult-sounding names), it’s apparent that stressing the importance of this essential skill is something for more than just children.
So why all the fuss about listening? As I see it, the failure to listen effectively is about more than simply mishearing someone; it’s symptomatic of a deeper issue, one that involves listening in all its forms and that can have wide-ranging implications, both metaphysically and practically.
As I wrote in a previous post, “Honoring Our Inner Voice,” listening is crucial for developing and making effective use of our intuition, one of the key tools that we employ in our application of conscious creation/law of attraction principles, the internal metaphysical practice we use to shape our physical reality. But, if we’re not listening to what’s going on in the inner world of our intuition, chances are we’re probably not listening to what’s going on in the outer world of our physical existence, either, because the two are mirrors of one another. So a failure to listen not only impacts the fundamental internal approach we use in creating our reality; it also affects the specific external outcomes we realize from that process.
If anyone doubts how critical this is, think about what can happen when listening is not practiced effectively. Consider, for example, how our inability (or unwillingness) to listen has led to the flagrant intolerance that has become increasingly pervasive in public debates over everything from government policy-making to religious and spiritual expression to social justice matters. And turning a deaf ear in such discussions only exacerbates the fallout from such dicey issues, making frustrating and difficult situations even worse.
I’ve noticed this trend in my own life as well. Over the years, I’ve experienced countless instances where faulty listening has led to a variety of problems involving everything from placing restaurant orders to sharing stories with professional peers to dealing with customer service representatives. It’s been discouraging at times, too, making me wonder whether the act of listening is becoming a vanishing art.
Fortunately, as a conscious creation practitioner, I realized where that belief might lead, and so I chose not to buy into it any further. And, thankfully, as a result of rewriting my beliefs in this regard, I’ve seen various materializations arise related to improving our listening skills, such as the aforementioned corporate training seminar sessions (not to mention correctly prepared restaurant orders!).
On a larger scale, the subject of listening also provided the theme for an event I attended several years ago, the 2010 Colorado Seth Conference, a program devoted to the teachings of author Jane Roberts, one of the chief proponents of conscious creation philosophy. The conference explored listening as it specifically relates to this process, and the theme was covered in virtually all of the presentations, reflected in the conference room decorations and incorporated into the program’s entertainment activities (participants even played a game of Telephone!). Programs like these do much to help address the listening issue.
In addition to formal programs like those noted above, there are many simple steps each of us can take to refine our listening skills. The following list of suggestions is by no means complete, but it offers a few basic ideas to consider in honing our listening capabilities, both internally and externally:
Get quiet. Take some time each day to sit in silence and listen to your inner voice. Tune out the distractions, and just focus on the words, phrases, images or impressions that come to mind. This is your intuition speaking to you, and the information it’s seeking to impart can tell you much about the beliefs that are at work in shaping the reality you’re experiencing (including some that you may not have been aware of previously). These messages may provide clues about things to pay attention to in your everyday waking consciousness, too, either as harbingers of cautions or opportunities.
Don’t censor your messages. It might be tempting to censor information and impressions that appear unusual, atypical or outlandish, but that practice should be avoided. Not only does censoring exclude information that could eventually prove useful, but it also cultivates a behavior where it becomes all too easy, if not automatic, to tune out ideas before they get a proper hearing, diminishing one’s overall ability or willingness to listen. Work toward staying open, to hear out ideas and to see what they have to say. This is something that is equally applicable both internally and externally.
Don’t interrupt. Anyone who interrupts someone else while they’re talking really isn’t listening to what that person has to say. Aside from the inherent rudeness involved in this, it also shows that the supposed listener is unwilling to hear what’s being said. Steering clear of this practice not only helps prevent later misunderstandings, but it also helps bolster one’s listening abilities in general.
Be a parrot. If you really want to see how effective a listener you are, try repeating back to someone what he or she has just told you. The wording need not be identical, but the essence of the message should be the same. In addition to helping avoid clarity-related issues after the fact, this paraphrasing practice serves as a gauge to show you just how good your existing listening skills really are. Not everyone may be willing to go along with you on this little experiment, so try to find others who would be willing to indulge you in this self-assessment exercise.
Ask questions. If something is unclear, seek clarification. It almost never hurts to ask questions when necessary, and I’ve found it’s generally a sound, sensible practice. Even seemingly dumb questions are easier to handle than the dumb mistakes that can result from flawed listening practices. You can do this in both your interactions with others, as well as in analyses of information that comes from your own inner voice. The feedback you get from this practice can prove invaluable.
Listening is perhaps one of the most important acts we engage in, both with others and with ourselves. It’s a practice that we should strive to maintain, or even perfect, not one that we should take for granted or allow to become deficient. After all, as some of the foregoing examples illustrate, bad connections carry consequences – and not just for telephones.
Copyright © 2014, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.