I recently attended a luncheon for business people and as I looked around my table I was reminded again of the power of one’s individual life force. The dictionary defines life force as “the spirit or energy that animates living creatures; the soul.”
There were a total of six people at this table including myself, but only one other that exhibited what I would call any real life force. I include myself in the count because I was working to make sure I was animated and that my energy was reaching out to the rest of the people. I also made sure as did the other women at the table to listen with animation.
Listening is such an important skill and never gets enough attention.
As an actor I learned a long time ago the importance of listening. Not only in the camera filming the person speaking, but (as we all have observed) it is also covers the person or persons reaction to the words being spoken to them.
Listening is an art unto itself. Really listening requires getting out of our heads and making the person speaking more important than our own thoughts and what we want to say in response.
How many times have you begun to tell a story about an experience and the person “listening” jumps in and says something like, “Oh I know what you’re talking about I had the same thing happen to me, it was a terrible experience.” Off they go and you are left with your story unspoken. This may be my primary “beef” in life – People who are so caught up in themselves, so insecure, that they are constantly pushing their importance forward, rather than just listening with an open heart.
Believe me I am guilty of not listening at times, but I have learned how important it is. When you learn to really listen, you learn to react and to allow that reaction to reach your face. Listening then becomes a non-verbal feedback to the person speaking. That’s what we see in the movies when they cut from the person speaking to the person being spoken to. The audience is usually waiting for a response, which can sometimes determine the next action that takes place.
I do a lot of speaking in front of people and let me tell you it’s one of the most difficult things I do – not the speaking part, but the keeping the audience listening part. Each audience member is naturally going to be thinking of other things when I speak, it’s human nature. It’s the speakers job to keep them listening as much as possible and I do that by expressing myself with
Believe it or not, energy, animation and passion are also an integral part of listening. If you listen with energy and animation people will feel they are being heard.
Practicing these listening skills are what I call “active listening.” And remember to listen with your heart and not your head.