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I’ve been speaking professionally for thirty-five years. Over these years I’ve given over four thousand talks. I became quite proficient at the art of speaking. In this past year of sabbatical and retirement however, I’ve given only two public speeches and I may have learned more about speaking in this past year than in all the years preceding. When I stopped speaking publicly I began to practice deep speaking. It’s been revelatory.

Deeply listening to myself as well as others is a very humbling experience. In it I see how little I question my own assumptions and how easy it is to take issue with other’s opinions. I hear my pride, arrogance and condescending attitudes in ways I never  imagined. I see and hear others doing the same things. I wondered what might happen if I paused to ponder my own comments and questions before speaking. I now know.

In the deep listening and questioning process, I put myself in the place of the other person to feel what my reactions or responses might bring. The more I pause to reflect, the clearer I become about the impact of my responses. The more I become aware of the possible consequences, the more I stop talking. This gives me time and space to reframe the response or question from a deeper more compassionate place.

I’m discovering the interconnectivity between deep listening, deep questioning and deep speaking. The deeper we listen, the deeper we can speak. Deeper questions produce deeper answers. Our awareness shifts: the quieter and deeper we go, the more connected to Being we become. It’s arguably the deepest place of all interactions. Unfortunately we get stuck in our ego structures that love to control, manipulate and prove us right. The boundless base of Being waits calmly to speak and transform.

How many times have you accessed this ‘reflective pause’ in your listening, speaking and questioning? How many times have you wished you could take back the words you spoke in haste? Here’s an invitation for this week and beyond. Stop and listen to yourself and others before you speak. Listen to the words beyond the words, to the space between them and to the presence you feel once they leave your lips and theirs.

Listen to the silence within this presence. What do you observe, feel, want to say but don’t? How are you influencing the conversation? Notice your reactions to what’s being said and not said. Quiet your mind and drop into the Boundless Base of Being. Is it possible to change the world one conversation at a time with yourself and others? Listen, speak and question deeply over the next days and weeks to see. Journal your observations and practice deepening the conversation by speaking with heart. Take your time, go slowly. Watch, listen, learn, love and enlighten up . . . What do you say?

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