Zen and the Art of Listening.

Zen and the Art of Listening.

15 de July, 2018

Fully listening, paying attention to the person talking to you is the key driver of social awareness (the ability to accurately pick up on emotions in other people, and understand what is really going on with them). Of course there are other drivers (such as monitoring body language), but listening is perhaps the most important because it is what people are willingly sharing with us in that moment.

Though, we know such careful listening hardly happens. We know well because we go through this all the time – already thinking what to say next, thinking about something else, or maybe craving for a nap like our old friend Joe in the picture. All this while the person next to us is just trying to make a connection…we are thinking, not really listening!

Alan Watts, the main interpreter of Zen Buddhism in the West, once stated: “Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlooking them”. This perfectly sums up the issue with our listening skills, too.

Zen Buddhism is founded on the premise that the way to enlightenment is living in the moment – a practice also described as mindfulness. The ways to experience this are several, the main being through meditation (Zazen).

Practicing Zazen will definitely help you focus on the moment, and by consequence help you become a better listener: as the words flow, you’ll be able to actually grasp the feelings behind those words – because this time, as much as you eat when you are hungry and sleep when you are tired, you are listening when someone is talking to you – not thinking! As a (positive) consequence, you are strengthening your social awareness.

Since social awareness is one of the four skills that build up your Emotional Intelligence, and the latter accounts for 58% of your performance in your job (Bradberry&Greaves, 2009), we cannot just overlook the benefits that deeply listening to our peers bring to our career.

And there are ways to work on this.



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