How we lose presence in LISTENING

How we lose presence in LISTENING

Man-watching-TV-not listening

Have you ever received feedback yourself or commented on another person’s listening “skills”:


“all she does is talk about herself”
“every time I bring something up he tries to problem solve or fix me…I just want him to listen”
“she is always on her phone”
“he’s so fidgety, can’t sit still or is always looking around when I trying to talk to him”


I used to be that guy. Seemingly, always preoccupied thinking about the next thing, distracted by something on my phone or in the surrounding environment. If I was more focused in conversation, I repeatedly got feedback from my buddies that I was “talking over them” and that my “trying to be ‘helpful’ and fix her” was not what she wanted. One female friend actually grabbed my face and helped pivot my wandering attention into better focus as I was listening to her—she did so lovingly and it really made an impact. After enough feedback around listening, I started observing great listeners to discover their secrets in how they were so available and present in conversation.


Listening is a crucial part of our ability to communicate and thrive in relationships and at work. It affects how well we understand, acknowledge and appreciate others as we create, maintain and deepen relationships as well as the way we engage, correspond, sell, inspire, instruct and manage in the workplace. Better listening enhances communication, understanding and appreciation of others. The masterful listeners listen from a depth of presence and openness that allows speakers to feel heard, understood, appreciated, seen for who they are & freer to express a greater range of themselves.


Distracted: internally by our own mental-emotion noise or externally by digital stimulation or the environment

Self-absorption: anxiously waiting for my turn to talk, thinking of what I want to say, interrupting, or talking over

Multi-tasking: partial listening while splitting attention on 2 or more things

Emotionally Triggered: emotions create static, prioritize attention on our inner experience, so we’re unavailable to hear others

Advice or Fixing: giving requested advice or trying to problem solve when the person simply wants you to listen

Getting lost in their world: losing awareness of your self or over-listening to others to avoid your own emotions or sharing your own experience


Just because we are physically in a conversation or interpersonal engagement doesn’t mean we are “present”, listening and actually hearing the other person. As Wesley Snipes clarified in White Man Can’t Jump:


“Look man, you can listen to Jimi (Hendrix) but you can’t hear him. There’s a difference man. Just because you’re listening to him doesn’t mean you’re hearing him.”


8 KEYS to better LISTENING

Body Relaxation: becoming more relaxed in our body allows us to quiet mental & emotional static to first listen to ourselves, then others

Open Availibility: becoming empty allows availability to listen & receive someone else’s experience

Curiosity: venturing out beyond our self with desire to connect & genuine curiosity to know someone more deeply;

Attunement: attunement with another person’s system allows rapport, resonant connection, empathy & multi-channel information to be sensed & received thru words, sensations, emotions, body language & tonality in the other person’s system

Connection creates a “WE”: the move from “I” or “you” to “me and you” allows the creation of a “we space”—the realm of true connection; staying centered & grounded in our own body when listening to others prevents leaving our self & getting lost in their world

Without Agenda: listening without defensiveness, judgment, hidden motives, giving advice, trying to fix, or to “get something” allows the speaker to feel safer to express more of themselves

Discerning Instinct: a good listener discerns when to be silent, when to empathize, when to relate, or when to ask a powerful question

Depth & Openness: listening from deeper presence allows the moment to unfold & something new to emerge, drawing out deeper authenticity, insight, underlying beliefs, intentions, emotions, vulnerability & connection; deeper listening occurs from deeply relaxed, spacious & open presence attuned to everything arising in the moment