The Secret Power of Hearing Shadows

Listening is a skill. Making someone feel heard is a gift.

My dad’s first words when I told him about my new job were, “It’s not very close to home.” I was a fresh college graduate in Missouri. He was back home in Maine and the job was in Pennsylvania.

I did the easy thing. I heard words but I didn’t hear meanings.

Pennsylvania didn’t seem closer to him but it seemed closer to me. I resisted his words, observed he was right, and moved with my young family to live in the greater Philadelphia area. I’m not saying I made a wrong decision. But I didn’t hear what dad meant.

Today, it sounds silly that I heard the words but didn’t hear meanings. I totally missed it. My excuses are youth and enthusiasm.

Now that my own children are out and on their own, I know what he meant. It wasn’t geography. It was relationship.

Words are partial truths.
Foolish leaders listen; wise leaders hear.

My dad didn’t say, “I want to stay connected with you.” He didn’t say, “I’ll miss my grandchildren.” He said the easier, less revealing truth.

Most of us say easier, less revealing, less vulnerable truths. We hide our truths in shadows.

You connect more deeply by realizing words are shadows.

Once in a while, dip below the surface and let those around you know you understand their concerns.

The best times to hear are when:

  1. New tensions or stresses arise.
  2. Procedures change.
  3. Business is down.
  4. Achievements are enjoyed.

Listen for and hear:

  1. Frustrations.
  2. Fears.
  3. Hopes.
  4. Aspirations.

Hearing:

  1. Reject the need to give solutions. This may be the hardest thing to do.
  2. Don’t make excuses.
  3. Withhold judgement.
  4. Help them think their own thoughts.

The goal of hearing is making people feel understood. People who feel understood open their hearts to your influence.

How do you listen in ways that make others feel understood?