This is not another article about 'active listening'. You know all the tips already - pay attention, nod, open body position, ask questions, acknowledge, clarify, paraphrase, encourage. This message takes listening to a deeper, more magnetic level that creates deep, authentic connection.

The first person you should be listening to is yourself. Now 'duh' I hear you saying. But have you truly been giving your inner voice a platform to air its opinions and insights? Chances are, if you're like me, then 'no, not really' is the real answer.

And just to complicate things, there is the wise inner voice, the You voice, and then there is the Gremlin voice, the one who is like a neurotic chirping tadpole.

More often than not the Gremlin voice gets more air time than the You voice. Like how I stand at the top of a ski run, a little nervous, and the Gremlin pipes up - 'You suck. You're holding Rob back, you are such a gumby skiier. Why can't you get this right? Everyone skis better than you.' That Gremlin has good intentions - to keep me safe and avoid cracking my noggin on an icy slope. And that means maintaining the status quo. But when we maintain the status quo, we stagnate. And that's just plain smelly.

How do you make space for the You voice and quiet the Gremlin? Give the Gremlin some air time - let him have his say, and then thank him for trying to keep you safe. Then breathe. Breathe again. In the stillness of the breathing, from out of the deep silence your You voice can speak.

When I was at the top of a run, my You voice sounded like this: "It's ok. You're ok. Relax. Just enjoy it.The mountains are beautiful."

And I did! My skiing did not achieve a radical transformation, but I relaxed and I allowed a little joy to creep in. And isn't that the point?

Stillness creates the space for real listening - so your inner wisdom can bubble to the top.

The same applies to listening to others. Focus on your breathing to still the tadpole gremlin, and then you will hear everything the other person is saying - verbally, non-verbally, and energetically. And better yet, they will feel your connection, your attentiveness, and your engagement.

This often gets thrown to the dogs in meetings. I've seen people who profess to be proficient listeners let the horses bolt when it comes to group discussions. Loud voices prevail, group think chokes off ideas before they've been fully considered, and keeping to the meeting agenda bulldozes discussion.

Stillness needs to be created in meetings too.

You can do this by slowing the pace of the meeting. Add a moment of reflection with proposals or new suggestions for people to collect their thoughts and form their opinions. Have people write their thoughts down before they share them. Give each person a 1 minute floor time so they don't feel like they need to jump over each other to feel heard.

By slowing the pace you will ensure that all ideas are addressed and given full consideration, and no one will feel railroaded or frustrated. If this means re-convening to address outstanding agenda items, so be it. If you show people you respect their thoughts and contributions and create a listening space in meetings, they will be mindful of their contributions too.

And what if you work on your own? Dedicated listening time is essential for you too. You can do this with a journal, meditation, or by taking time out to allow your thoughts to percolate on a particular issue.

My favourite and most reliable way to let stillness speak is to head out in to nature. Here the soft sounds of the wind, the fresh blue sky, and the immense vastness of the universe holds you in its palm...and all cares melt to insignificance like ice kissed by the sun. Here you become You and all is well.

Coach's Challenge:
How can you add moments of stillness to your life? Imagine what you could hear if you did.

Author's Bio: 

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Author Zoe Routh works with women in business to enhance their personal effectiveness and leadership capacity for global effect. For free tips on how to become a more effective leader that will save you time, money, energy, and stress, go to