Radical listening requires self-restraint and discipline. As a leader, listening is one of the primary tools you use to understand, persuade, and communicate strategically. Do you want to improve your listening?  If so, try listening when your emotions scream to have you do something else, like disagree, give advice or flee the conversation. Here’s a challenge to try. Listen, and only acknowledge the other person’s reality. Do not give in to your emotional urges. Notice what happens in your body. Do you feel anger? Do you feel sad. Do you feel impatient? Do you possess enough courage and self-control to listen without adding your two cents? Can you listen to understand even if the other is unwilling to listen to and understand you? Listening requires awareness, courage and discipline. That is radical listening.

If the other person is upset, do you have an overwhelming urge to take it on, make it better, fix the situation or give advice? Or do you have the urge to escape? If someone has a different political view, do you need to correct them? Do you need to make them wrong? Do you have the urge to raise your voice, get into an argument, or justify your sarcasm? Do you have the need to obsess and find your “group” of like-minded people who can confirm that you are right and they are wrong? It takes courage and discipline to listen when our emotions run the show.

Experiment with letting the urges and feelings pass. Let the issue belong to the other person. Notice your addictions to being right, fixing, correcting, obsessing.

When Listening is Difficult, Painful, Excruciating or Impossible

Listening is not easy when you disagree.
Listening is difficult when the other person is suffering.
Listening is excruciating when you just want to be right.
Listening is almost impossible when you think you are superior.
Listening is unbearable when someone is illogical or uninformed.
Listening is painful when the other disrespects your views.

Listening is easy when you enjoy the conversation, agree with the other person, feel acknowledged and are intellectually stimulated. That’s the soft-skills kind of listening they teach at the university. Radical listening is only for those with enough courage and discipline to make the sacrifice.

Radical listening is an act of self-control.
Radical listening is one path to spiritual growth.
Radical listening is an act of love.

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