I’m finishing an emotional intelligence course with the Daniel Goleman and one the more interesting and useful exercises that we’ve been practicing is effectively monitoring, calibrating, and improving our listening skills.
It sounds elementary because it is.
But, the simplicity of this task masks its true level of difficulty; being fully aware of how well you’re listening to another human is a rare and magical skill — apparently, it’s also a skill that can be developed.
The “Tea Cup” Question is one where you visualize a real teacup and you ask oneself:
What is the (real) state of my listening?
And you become aware of all of the nuances and intricacies of the cup itself and you start to notice cracks, residue, discoloration, awkward positions to hold it as well as whether it’s too full or too empty or even how long you’ve owned it.
The point is that you’re paying attention to the finer details of the person that’s giving you information and data; you’re able to see and understand them more because you’re actually paying attention.
You and I can tell when someone’s not fully present, not fully listening to what we’re saying and it can really damage the relationship.
Strangely, we don’t think about how we do this to others, only how we feel when others disrespect us through their (slight) inattention.