It’s good to talk ….. but ….

It’s good to talk….

More importantly it is great to be heard.

We need to be heard. Period.

I have been on the road for the most part of the last month supporting a line manager development programme. A constant theme in that programme is the power of listening, creating the space for a colleague to be heard – and i see time and again how that engages the speaker. Providing those individuals with a voice – and more importantly it is an acknowledgement which then empowers them.

And how just through the process exploring and questioning we can facilitate some very real personal epiphanies. Too often we forget that we are social beings – we forget the necessary value in companionship and compassion.

We create a safe space within which someone can develop their thinking and if we can avoid the temptation to impose our wisdom we can often steer them towards solutions that they intuitively “already knew”.

Their solutions become their own. Their actions personal – not imposed.

But there is also the light-bulb moment – that moment when they realise they have solved their own previously insoluble issue. This often manifests itself in a whole shift in their personal energy and physical being. It is like they have scored that winning goal at Wembley stadium.

The solution maybe personal but the engagement was profoundly social.

Ben Goldacre in his book Bad Science talks about the “apparent” effects of homeopathy – he is not a fan – but interesting he acknowledges change occurs, his theory is not – however – about the vibrational memory held in the water of elements barely measurable but of the consultation process. GP appointments are rarely beyond 10 minutes these and so the exchanges are often perfunctory at best – Mr Goldacre tells us that the homeopath session is longer, maybe up to 45 minutes in which the patient is allowed to more fully expand on their experience.

He suggests that it is this interaction which is in itself a stimulation for low level healing – the very act of someone fully listening to us and acknowledging our situation is in itself of greater benefit than mere catharsis.

Interesting research in Europe around the working of the Placebo effect is shedding spreading further illumination here. It appears that placebos in certain cases are as affective as the drugs they are being employed to test. For a drug to approved it has to show a marked improvement against the placebo in double-blind testing, sometimes that difference does not occur – but yet both groups display significant measured improvement.

Social neuroscience is a growing discipline – acknowledging our brains’ innate connectivity with others. We are redefining social in the 21st century – substituting personal interaction for remote impersonal messaging. What this will mean only time will tell, the experiment has barely begun, but it ignores the physical and non-verbal elements that are a foundation of the direct interaction. It is feels as though we are a network of highly connected islands, but it does not feel like community.

So back to my observed learning…..

We need to listen to each other more. There is something very “celebrity of me” in the world today. We need to return more to an “I am acknowledging you” space. Sometimes when one posts something sad or around a personal issue one is barraged by advice – often it is the act of being heard which is needed – not a list of “what I would do” statements, however well-meant.

We need to find time again for others. We need to reconnect to the social being within but not in a social media bubble.

So this week – take time to listen to others – take time to simply let them explore what they need to without advice. Question them politely, help them shift the perspective.

Help them to help themselves.

Remember the axiom: give a man a fish and his family will eat tonight, teach a man to fish and he can feed his family everynight.

So yes, it is good to talk, but is a powerful and empowering social inter-human service to listen.


And by the way you can try this with horse too. Not all communication is language.

Try it, they will love you for it.


© the mindful horse