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  • Gary Borland

#44 Calm the Noise

Transform your relationships by listening to yourself and noticing how it impacts how you listen to others.

What if our starting point for any conversation was noticing the noisy environment inside our own heads? If you’re anything like me, it really is very noisy in there! In fact, it’s arguably so noisy for so much of the time that I’m desensitised and often don’t really even notice it. Until I start to tune in and listen. What’s the nature of that noise? What’s it about? Who’s it about? How much opinion, assessment, critique, judgement is there?

The challenge with all this noise is that it’s just being automatically generated rather than being something we’re actively creating. It’s also likely to be unexamined, so we have little, if any idea of the nature of it. And because it’s unexamined, it rarely gets challenged. And because it’s rarely challenged, it’s likely to seem to us that it’s the truth. Add to that our expectations of others – who they should be, how they should be, how they should not be, what they should do and not do, think, and not think. And so it goes on……and on.

All of this is part of the context or background for our conversations and relationships. It’s little wonder therefore that tensions and challenges arise with partners, friends, family, work colleagues and others. Add to the mix an exchange between 2 people. A conversation perhaps. Or perhaps not. So many conversations seem to be just an opportunity for the person speaking to tell others what they think, and for the other person (or people), to wait until it’s their turn to speak. Enter the interruption! It’s really difficult to know what someone was trying to tell us if they don’t even get to finish. But perhaps that’s part of the challenge. We think we know, so the listening part of the conversation gets bypassed in preference for more talking. Or, we’re so focused on ourselves, that the other person is just an opportunity to download. Sometimes that can be really helpful, but it generally doesn’t make for meaningful, supportive relationships if the flow is one way.

Observing the conversations we’re in can be revealing. You’re likely to know people who might ask occasional questions, but will invariably spend most of the time talking. About anything. Often about themselves. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if relationships are to deepen, knowing the other person seems like an important element at the core of those relationships. Observing others is revealing. Observing ourselves can be disconcerting. To notice our own assumptions, presuppositions, biases and how loud our own ‘noise’ can be is a great first step to getting straight about what’s actually going on in our conversations.

Try bringing to mind a relationship that you consider to be challenging. Notice your own ‘noise’ about this person and observe the way you interact in conversation with them. What facts are present? How much interpretation is coming from your own ‘noise’? How well are you listening – really listening? Relationships can be transformed when one person lays down the right to be ‘right’, chooses to give up what they think they already know, and really starts to listen. Firstly, to themselves and then to others, with the intent of knowing and being known. Loving and being loved.


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