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Inner Musings: Being Heard

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This Taurus Season, the season of connecting to voice, mental health muse, Lauren Eimers-Wangrud, brings us some beautiful and wise tips on how to truly hear and be heard.
Artwork by Kaitlin Walsh

“Communication is not saying something; communication is being heard.”
– Frances Hesselbein, Former CEO of the Girl Scouts of America, writer, b.1915

Taurus season is a favorite for many reasons: the true arrival of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, a slowing down to savor the good things in life, and the time to dig into conversations with others. Conversing can be one of life’s greatest pleasures, but it can also be one of its thorniest activities. If you are really wanting to be heard the next time you find yourself deep in conversation, there are a few tried and true ways of making sure you’re not just talking, but communicating.

If there is one thing you can remember from this little piece, it’s that listening, really hearing what the other party is saying, will make what you are saying listened to, as well. In our fast-paced culture, we often just wait for the other person to finish what they are saying to jump right in with what we have to say. In essence, we are just using the time we aren’t talking to prepare for when we will be talking again. It’s pretty difficult to hear what someone else is saying when you are mapping out a blueprint of your next phrase or sentence. It has become such a rarity to really be listened to that an entire profession, mental health therapy, has boomed in response. People and health insurance companies are willing to pay to have a person sit and listen to them in 50-minute increments. As a therapist, I can tell you some of the best medicine is just to be heard and acknowledged, since it’s lacking in everyday life.

Now, you’re going to remember to listen (or at least try to) in your next conversation, right? That last paragraph is a great example of how to get the essence of what you want to communicate, the “meat” of your argument, to be heard: by literally telling folks to listen to what you are about to say! Tell your audience or conversation partner you are going to say something important, say it, and then remind them about it once more before the conversation is over. However, don’t overuse this little tool, since it should be used just once or twice in a conversation or presentation.

Another way to truly communicate with others is what’s called “mirroring.” The great news is is that your brain handles this for you effortlessly. When you are giving full attention to what the other party is saying, you will subconsciously start to mirror that person in tone, body language, and inflections. Your brain has “mirror neurons” that are activated when mirroring and allows for a greater connection and understanding to be established with the other individual whose mirror neurons are kicking in, too. Your brain has this system in place to help create empathy, which we all know is what truly connecting can foster.

Knowing that tuning in and listening can help you make a deeper connection to others should give you the confidence to slow down and invest in the words you are exchanging. Take this Taurus season to communicate completely so that you can be heard.

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