I heard the term divine listening recently and thought it applied really well to managing conflict. Beyond compassionate listening or listening to understand, divine listening incorporates even more. To me it means listening as if you are Divine yourself.
And how does a loving Divine presence listen? With infinite understanding, with unconditional love, with awareness and acceptance of who each of us is and our inevitable human imperfections. It presupposes that each of us is doing the very best we can with the (limited) tools and knowledge we have.
The Divine has more detachment and can lay out any issue or situation from an inclusive perspective. Then, it is easier to accept assumptions, beliefs, and stories different from yours as equally valid.
A longing for Love and Acceptance are universal—but we don’t always get them or hear them. Just about everyone I’ve ever met or worked with wants to be seen, accepted, loved, understood, and appreciated. At work and in life, people want to contribute and be seen as valuable. At the same time, human misunderstandings of ourselves and others can get in the way.
Some common scenarios:
- If old bad experiences and old messages get triggered, you may hear something negative that actually was not said or intended.
- If you feel attacked, you may lash out, saying or doing something mean or hurtful as a way to protect or defend yourself.
- You may deflect love and appreciation, if you feel unworthy or mistrustful.
- This cycle can repeat and intensify.
From a divine perspective, all of this can be embraced and understood with empathy and compassion. When you listen from this perspective you don’t have to take on the other person’s attitude or hostility. If you don’t have to react, you can instead respond in the best way possible. It is a simple concept, but not so easy to implement.
How can you begin to practice divine listening? Here are some tips to get started:
- Breathe calmly and find some space inside.
- Give yourself the gift of Divine listening first. You can imagine a Divine being or energy or a very wise enlightened person, detached yet fully present, listening to you, loving you, understanding you, forgiving you for your part in the conflict or situation.
- Use this perspective to look at the other person. How would the Divine frame what is going on? How would they compassionately view that person’s part?
- Imagine the Divine acting as an interpreter between you and the person you are in conflict with. This Being can help you bridge gaps of language and understanding.
- Don’t overthink it. You don’t have to believe in a god or goddess within any religion or any spiritual path in order to activate this way of thinking. Use your imagination to find an image or being that works for you. The vision is spiritual, but the impact is very practical.
Want an example of Divine Listening? Get my guided visualization, Let Go, Love, Forgive, Download the free Insight Timer app to play.
About Lorraine Segal: As a teacher, trainer, and coach, I am passionately committed to helping people in organizations and companies learn skills to release conflicts and misunderstandings, communicate better, and create a more harmonious and productive workplace. I teach communication and conflict management skills at Sonoma State University and online, and create customized programs for businesses and non profits as well as working with individual managers and employees. For more information about how we might work together, or to request a consult or session, visit ConflictRemedy.com
divine image photo credit: Josh Bartok, Beholding the Cries of the World, Flickr via Creative Commons.