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The universal language and good communication!

listening is everything!

I recently was invited to a concert of some famous jazz musicians. I was impressed with their ability to listen to each other, mimicking and layering each other's sounds in an improvisational way. It occurred to me that one of the things that made their improvisation successful was that they were listening to the scales, the tones, the riffs and playing back in a harmonic way or a pleasing way something similar. Some of this was rehearsed and some was spur of the moment. The band would play a riff that was obviously one of their standard tunes and then they would go off into a rambling melodic and percussive musical jam session. Then as if magic, on a dime, come back to some well known tune. I remember the Grateful Dead doing this to the amazement of the delirious crowds back in my youth.

Music is a universal language of feeling. When the concert was over the musicians were mingling with the crowd. I asked one of them if the ability to listen in his music helped him in his personal life communicating in his relationships. He said "No ..that music was different from words." But my thinking is that music and feeling are not so different.

When you are trying to communicate in your relationships.. do you listen for the feeling and the intent of the words. Do you try to listen to what the other person is communicating? Do you paraphrase back to your parter the words and ideas they have spoken, to be sure you understand what they are trying to say? These are very well known high level communication skills. If we listen to understand the other, if we communicate with the intention that we will be understood, this helps us relax. If we focus on common ground rather than competition we can help stay connected emotionally, even if we disagree.

Listening is an important skill. Many of us are too focussed on what we want to say to listen well. We have to quiet our own minds and open up to what is being said to listen well. One of the reasons music is so exciting is that a band is able to come together harmoniously and obviously make beautiful music together..I have always wondered whether being a good musician made one a better lover because being a good lover takes listening with your whole self, body, mind and heart. The same goes for being a good communicator.

So my encouragement is to become a good listener. Listening is kind of like being in a meditative state. It takes quieting the mind. I use good listening skills with my clients, friends and family. It helps me hear the deeper things often not said. I can only encourage you to become a good listener as an important human life skill.

There are some key books that helped me learn to be a better communicator. "How to talk so kids will listen and how to listen so kids will talk by Faber and Mazlish!" it's a great book for parents and is "Nonviolent Communication" by Marshall Rosenberg...and anything by Harville Hendrix. Good communication skills is a goal everyone can benefit from. I encourage you to become a good listener and communicator! It might make you a better musician or lover!

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