This wasn’t just any kind of public speaking coaching session; we went way beyond the typical speaking slowly into the microphone. We went straight for connecting in relational presence and allowing the words to flow from the heartmind. (What’s the heartmind? It’s that love centre from which Life’s wisdom flows in and out and through us.)
Before we actually said a word in front of each other, we were taught to ‘listen exquisitely’. This means remaining open, loving and receiving; it means not judging the content coming from the speaker (not even with a nod).
What does listening have to do with speaking? Everything. Listening in this way, with undivided attention, and maintaining eye contact, creates a fertile environment for a relationship to grow.
By the way, this was the most difficult part for me! Give me the microphone and I’ll tell you a story – but ask me to sit quietly while someone is talking and NOT respond? I’m one of those crazy nodders when I’m totally with a speaker. I “mmmhmmmm” out loud, too! And if you’re saying anything that triggers the slightest excitement in me, depending on our relationship, I will cut you off to blurt it out. (My husband is always asking me, “Can you let me finish?”)
At best, I will remain quiet on the outside but be formulating my response while you’re still talking. Yes, I admit it! What I learned yesterday was an excellent reminder of how important the listener’s role is in communicating, no matter what the relationship: parent-child, spouse-spouse, friend-friend etc.
And then when we practiced that – when we each stood at the front and had our turns at the microphone and as listeners – we were able to create this sticky, sweet space of mutual Love. We were simultaneously a captivating audience and a scintillating speaker. It’s the strangest phenomenon to try to describe – you need to practice it to really understand it.
So, how do you do that? I’m going to tell you and I’m going to ask you to try it. And if you have any inkling to share your story publicly or improve your communication skills, I would strongly recommend contacting Ray Helm at Speaking with Ease.
Grab a partner and sit on chairs facing each other, knee-to-knee. Take turns as Person A and Person B. Person A will speak first while Person B listens exquisitely, for three minutes. Person A can speak or not speak (you can choose to just be in each other’s presence – but no making faces at each other…it’s not that kind of game!) while Person B simply receives. Switch after three minutes.
Keep practicing it over a period of some time. Once you get over the weirdness of being fully present with an honest-to-goodness human being (versus your smartphone, computer or what have you), you will discover how breath-taking it is to be One, with no end and no beginning.
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P.S. If you are interested in reading about relational presence, Ray recommended Be Heard Now by Lee Glickstein. You can find it on Page 4 of the Inspirational/Healing/Educational section of my Amazon-powered bookstore by clicking here.