We are transmitters of information
Our lives are stories that are the sum of our experiences. Because we are constantly experiencing, we are all stories in the making that only end when we end our experience of life. We are constantly walking, moving and living, carrying with us this information about ourselves and communicating it to others in every moment we exist.
When we communicate with others, we are sending information with the idea that the person receiving the message will interpret it in the same way that we intended. But, our world today is filled with noise. By noise I mean distraction, entropy or a disturbance of a useful information signal.
This means that whenever we try to communicate with others, there are many things that could affect the strength or clarity of the information signal that is sent and how it is interpreted.
Examples of noise
- Environmental noise is noise that physically disrupts communication, such as being in a restaurant where you strain to hear the person sitting opposite you because so many other people are also talking and there is loud music playing in the background.
- Physiological noise refers to the physical conditions such as deafness or blindness that can become a barrier to effective communication.
- Semantic noise is when a speaker and a listener have different interpretations of the meanings of certain words.
- Syntactical noise is caused by mistakes in grammar, which can confuse the person interpreting the message.
- Organisational noise is about how the message is constructed, for example, a receiver who is given unclear, badly worded directions may be unable to figure out how to reach their destination.
- Cultural noise is when stereotypical assumptions are made or when we are culturally insensitive to the other person in the communication process.
- Psychological noise is about our attitudes that can also make communication difficult, for example if one person is constantly angry or anxious about something other than what is happening in the present moment, they will be distracted and not be able to fully recieve the message.
When you meet someone, you might already have an impression of them before they even open their mouths. When you listen to them, you might already have ideas in your head based on your own experiences of what they are trying to share with you. When you do this, you are adding noise to the system before they even start communicating. It’s like writing a message on a piece of paper that is already filled with scribbling – making it harder to read.
Being attuned to the person sending us a message means that we offer the other person our total attention and listen to them on a deeper level. We seek to understand rather than just making our own point, and this helps to reduce noise in the communication channel between us.
Attuning or ‘tuning in’ means refining your attention to the source of the information – just like you would do to a radio signal. Instead of always trying to pay attention to everything happening around you, tune yourself into the person you are communicating with. Give them your complete attention and be open to what they are sending you in order to fully receive it.
We often find ourselves in communication with others merely to defend our own opinions or share our ideas. We are fulfilling our own selfish needs when we want to talk at another person without wanting to listen to what they have to say.
Real listening requires attunement to the feelings of the other person, allowing them to have their say and letting the conversation flow in a mutually determined way. Instead of a self-centred approach, it requires a group-centred or we-centred approach, that takes self-control and self awareness to get right.
Deep Listening is a way of hearing in which we are fully present with what is happening at that moment without trying to control it or manipulate it. When we reduce our own internal psychological noise and allow the other person to communicate what they need to, we can receive the message as it is, without colouring it in with additional noise and without creating a judgement of it – thereby distorting it – before we fully understand it. We need to hear precisely what is being said to us so we know how to respond appropriately.
For listening to be effective, we require openness – an open mind and an open heart. That means creating space for the information to be received, clearing out the noise, being fresh, alert, attentive, calm, empathetic and receptive. We can all be more attuned simply by having the intention to pay more attention.
Attunement And Deep Listening Are Multi-level Daily Practices
Learning to listen begins with listening to yourself. Take a look at the different levels and bring your awareness to your own patterns of listening.
Self – Are you attuned to yourself? Are you aware of your own internal experiences? Do you know how you listen to others, how you think, how you feel and how your perceptions have been clouded by your past experiences? Do you take the time to sit and listen to what is going on inside you each day?
- Practice tuning into your inner voice by silencing all outside noises
- Take time to listen to your deeper feelings, emotions, desires, wants, and needs.
- Deep reflection on your inner experience through spiritual practice, prayer, meditation etc.
Social – Are you able to focus on others or are you preoccupied by how you are going to respond to what is said? Are you able to give your full attention to the other or is your mind filled with what it should say next?
- Give your full attention to the person in front of you
- Stop thinking of what you will say back to them
- Make clarifying meaning of the message your core goal e.g. restate what they say to make sure you understand, ask for clarity, provide cues that you are listening to them and are not distracted
- Try to feel what they are feeling when they are speaking to you
Environmental – Are you able to tune into what the environment is experiencing? What does the life around you feel like?
- Immerse yourself in nature.
- Use all your senses to experience a natural setting.
- Take the time to appreciate the natural environment around you.
Creative / Spiritual- Are you able to connect with your higher purpose and what you were created for?
- You can open your inner-sight by increasing your level of inner listening, awareness and attunement to everything around you.
- This can be done through your own religious or spiritual and contemplative practices such as prayer, remembrance, silence and finding flow in what you are doing among others.
Unseen – Are you able to protect yourself from things that are not within your current field of awareness and perception? This level of perception is usually experienced through a deeper spiritual understanding as seen in many religious and traditional practices.
- This is about being open or closed to things you are not able to perceive physically.
- You can protect yourself from unwanted forces through prayer, grounding, energy field strengthening, ruqya etc.
Listening is about being able to receive information. Writing a message on a blank page makes it more decipherable than writing it over a lot of scribbling. Make sure you are clear and open to be a good receiver.