On Listening, Being, and Presence

In “Listening Well is Hard,” Steve Sanduski writes about the generosity, self-awareness, and “bringing forth” necessary to listen well. In the mindfulness world, we frequently speak to “trusting emergence,” which sounds like what Sanduski is referring to with bringing forth. The idea is that if you have established the conditions skillfully, you don’t need to ask questions or do anything with yourself–with your body–other than to be receptive and curious and . . . listen.

Easy Peasy, But Not Really

Sounds easy, right? But what are the conditions, anyway? And how do you do them skillfully? If you watched any of the Life Centered Financial Planning Life 20 Virtual Summit, you likely heard a lot about listening. You also heard about being, communicating, well-being, empathy, and self-care. You heard about how important these qualities are for financial planners, and you heard a bit about how to cultivate them. One of my favorite sessions was Sarah Asebedo, PhD’s “Providing Value When Markets are Volatile,” which I think was misnamed. She spoke about self-care and way of being, both of which contribute to the “value” in the title of the presentation.

We Know The Why

By now, we all know how crucial it is to have empathy and to listen well, but do we know exactly what to practice to get better at these? Or how to develop them at all? Self-care, and even well-being, are probably the easiest to influence because there are things we know we can do to improve them. We’ve got things to DO to improve subjective well-being and happiness. And even though those things aren’t what most people are currently doing or think they should do, if they really wanted to find out the How of happiness and well-being, there are plenty of books and websites dedicated to those topics. But being? Presence? Listening? Trusting emergence? Where do these come from? How do we get them/develop them/improve them?

The Chicken or The Egg

As it turns out, unhappiness has been associated with a wandering mind, and a wandering mind has been associated with unhappiness. The ability to be present is a component of happiness, listening, well-being, empathy, being, as well as being in a position to even consider trusting emergence. Most intrapersonal and interpersonal skills spring from the ability to be with your present-moment experiences, with equanimity, no matter what those experiences are. It seems that the necessary inner work begins with cultivating presence.

The How of Being and Presence

Next week, BEGINNING JUNE 25, I will be teaching Mindfulness for Financial Planners. I am a Brown-University trained teacher of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), as well as a Certified Mindful Schools teacher, and I have created a 6-week course for busy professionals who don’t have the time (or maybe the interest) to devote to the 8-week MBSR course (which is over two hours and requires about 45 minutes of home practice each day and includes a daylong silent retreat). If you are interested in MBSR, there is a class beginning in August, LIKELY on Wednesday evenings (ET). You can sign up here. We all have a way of being as individuals, as professionals, as family members. For most people, that way of being was created by accident–as a result of not intentionally developing certain qualities. Maybe it’s time to craft a way of being that has been shown to increase not only your well-being and even your ability to be in attunement with your clients. You can read a bit about the How of mindfulness in this article in the Journal of Financial Planning.

You should consider this course if . . .

  • It’s time for you to be more intentional about your way of being, and/or you’d like to explore the notion of presence and how to develop it.
  • You’d like to learn how to listen deeply and how to respond skillfully to clients.
  • You’d like to increase your empathy.
  • You’d like to improve your emotional regulation.
  • You’d like to be better attuned to your clients.
If you don’t have time to devote to the intensity of the deep work of MBSR which is the ultimate training in mindfulness, this class is for you. Any questions? email me –  mary@suddenmoney.com.