Listening Meditation

This week's trek is inspired by Darden professor Edward Hess's research on why "listening is the most important 21st-century business skill."

You know that moment when you realize no one is listening to you?

It's the worst, right? We hate it when others don't listen to us but we often mimic that same behavior when it's not our turn to talk. When someone else is talking and you spend that time thinking about what you are going to say or you interrupt them to make your point, you are making an active choice not to listen.  

Hess argues that our inability to listen gets in the way of our ability to critically think. He believes that thinking critically isn't just about analyzing what you know -- it's also about being open to what you don't.

Your Listening Meditation

What It Is
A partner meditation that creates space to rethink what it means to listen and what it feels like to be heard.  

Why We Love It 
When we have conversations with other people we are often driven by an unconscious obligation to respond and react in a certain way. This exercise gives us an opportunity to break some of those norms and explore new ways of consuming and interacting within a dialogue.

How It Works

1. Find a friend and schedule 6-10 minutes for your partner meditation.

2. Pick one person to be the speaker and one to be the listener and set a timer for 3 minutes.

During that 3 minute period, the speaker has full reign to respond to the prompt “What is it like to be me?”

The listener isn’t allowed to say anything but can respond through nonverbal communication. It’s important for the listener to hold eye-contact while the speaker is speaking.

3. After the 3 minutes conclude, switch roles and repeat the same exercise.

4. After the exercise, take a minute to reflect by asking:
- What did it feel like to be the listener? How did I listen differently in this context?
- What was it like to be the speaker? How did I feel?
- How might I hold a different space for the speaker and listener roles in my daily activities based on what I’ve just learned?

Want to dig deeper into this topic?
  • To read about the eight things that often get in the way of our ability to listen, check this out from Inc
  • To learn more about the characteristics of bad listeners, check this out
  • For tips on how to be a better listener, read this.
Shout. It. Out. To Angel Hu for her next-level exercise crafting skills!
Shout. It. Back. To treks@lifetrekkers.me if you have praise or gripes about this trek or random thoughts about Life Trekkers.
Here's what your fellow trekkers have to say about past treks:

"The creative recovery exercise was one of my favorites. This exercise helped me push past my creative blocks. I love using it to clear my mind and reflect by rereading it at the end of the week."
- Dama Dipayana, Founder of Be Frank

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Shankar Desai