Before listening, you need to be calm. But we aren’t always calm. So what do we do then? We start by creating space. Passionate emotions come quickly, without thought. But when we allow them to be, noticing them, and giving them space, before acting or speaking, then they turn into a tempest in a teapot – quickly over. We may even realize that, while the feeling was valid, it wasn’t needed or useful. Take a breath, and just – wait. Notice how that emotion made you feel physically. Did it cause your breath to quicken, or your heart to race? Those don’t feel good, do they? Being aware of that, you can do something about it. Intentionally slow your breathing, and other parts of you will settle down, too. What sort of emotion is it? Can you name the feeling? If this is difficult, use a feeling word list to help. When we understand the emotion more deeply, what change the emotion is inviting us to consider, we can regulate it. We can accept it for what it is, without judgment. It just – is. The air we breathe is, and so is that emotion.
Another tool to help us regulate our emotions and gain the calm we want and need to properly listen is mindfulness. Mindfulness is being in the moment. So often, we live, in our heads, in a different time. We may spend time in the past, dwelling over events or decisions that have happened. But we can’t do anything about those. The best we can do with those is learn from them and move on. We may also spend time in possible futures. That’s a place that doesn’t yet exist, and may never, but we project what might happen, whether for worry or for hope. But when we are listening to someone, we need to be in the now. Those possible futures aren’t here, and may never be. Set that aside. Now. Be calm and listen with all your heart. When you do this from your center, you give a great gift.