• Chris Mercer

What is the Greatest Gift?

The other day in class I asked my 9th graders. What is the greatest gift you can give someone? I waited. One girl said, “Love?” Another agreed, “Yeah, love.”

I said, sure, love is great but can you be more specific? They were stuck. After a moment of silence I said. Deep listening is the greatest gift you can give someone. This raised some eyebrows. They looked curious and a little confused.

I said, “Think of the last time someone really listened to you. I mean truly listened. Close your eyes and find that moment when someone really listened deeply.” Then I asked them how that experience made them feel. No hands went up, they were silent for a while and finally one girl raised her hand and said quietly, “Respected.” And then the answers started flowing. A boy said, “Heard.” One girl said, “Relaxed.” Another said, “It brought me back down from feeling overwhelmed.” I replied, “Do you mean, Grounded?” “Yes, Grounded.” Another said, “Like they really cared about me.”

Deep listening made the feel:

  1. Respected

  2. Relaxed

  3. Heard

  4. Grounded

  5. Cared for

You can put all those words in a bucket labeled, “Love.” The kids smiled. They understood.

So how do you do it? Here are some effective steps toward the art of deep listening.

  1. Deep Breaths. Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself and focus.

  2. Release judgement. As judgments appear in your mind just relax them away.

  3. Match eye contact. If they are looking into your eyes welcome them with your eyes and look back. If they are looking away, look away but nod and look at them occasionally.

  4. Reflect back. You can literally repeat back key phrases and ideas.

  5. Get curious. Ask questions that demonstrate an authentic interest in the other person and their story.

  6. Don’t interrupt. Resist the urge to chime in.

  7. Be comfortable with silence. Give the speaker time to process and think.

Deep listening is greatest gift. You can give it any day, any time, to anyone.

Try and reply:

When was the last time someone really listened to you?

What was it like for you to practice deep listening?

If you think we could use more Deep Listening in our world, please share this post with your friends.

Chris Mercer is a proud father, teacher and Life Fulfillment Coach.

Contact Chris today for a free introductory coaching session:


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