Holding a Listening Bowl

Holding a listening space for someone is like holding a (metaphoric) bowl for them to fill.  You are the safe, stable presence that holds out that LISTENING bowl.  Inviting them to share, speak and fill the bowl with their own storyline. Theirs alone. It is NOT your role to add anything into the bowl. This disrupts the ripples of their story.

This type of listening is a way of witnessing, honouring, and acknowledging another at a much deeper level.

It is healing, empowering, and potent. It is not for you to be the Director of someone else’s story.

What if we were all taught to listen like this …? How would the world of work transform?


Nicola Lipscombe
Nicola Lipscombe
Nicola Lipscombe is a book lover, a Tree Sister, a poet, a story catcher, a photographer, and a mindfulness practitioner who adores nature, street art, and her collection of (op shop) denim jackets. She also happens to be a global professional speaker, facilitator, and coach who bridges western science with eastern philosophy and ancient wisdom practices. She is the Creator of HeartWise™ Leadership, Powerful Listening, Powerful Speaking and Friday’s Mindful Moments and is the Co-Creator of #SOULWALKING. She works with leaders and human change-makers to authentically and powerfully transform themselves from the inside out. She has been featured in Inspiring Workplaces (UK), TNT Explode The Status Quo, The Happiness Project (India), and on Side Walk Talk (US). Constantly learning she has degrees in Pharmacy, Higher Education, a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology, and a growing collection of certifications including Neurolinguistic Programming, DISC® Advanced, Management Practices, Resilience, Coaching, Hear With Heart, and The Art of (Feminine) Presence. A former pharmacist and academic her quest is now one of AWAKENING, CONNECTION, and BELONGING. An introvert by nature she seeks deeply meaningful conversations. If you want to talk to her about spirituality, consciousness, meaning, mattering, and belonging she is all ears (and heart). If you want to talk about your latest gizmo, 3 Steps to Guaranteed Wealth or mention the word ‘pivoting’ … she is not interested … really!

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    • Thankyou 🙏🏼🙏🏼. Presence is so important. People need to “feel us” in order to feel that they are seen, heard and that they and their voice truly matters to us.

    • Thanks so muchMaria ! 🙏🏼🙏🏼. The metaphor popped in to my head whilst explaining what I mean by “holding space” to a group earlier this year. And my singing bowl made the perfect prop !!

  1. Hi, Nicola.
    Good stuff. I suggest we need to balance our attention between how we listen and how we speak. Think of the process as having the goal of a community of understanding (we don’t have to agree, yet if we always focus on increased understanding, we listen and speak very differently, yes?)
    Here’s a couple of thoughts with our friend Colin Smith:

    • Hi Mac
      Thanks so much for sharing 🙏🏼. I love Colin’s work too and in the article I’m particularly smitten with the line he shares about “the magnet of somewhere else”. So true ! Looking forward to our upcoming chat 💗💗

  2. Nicola,
    Welcome Welcome Welcome!
    This is such a powerful lesson that is supported with the perfect visual. I have often ‘held the space’ for others, but not in the way of a ‘container’. This now makes perfect sense and can only uplevel my listening.
    Such great reminders all around: Being present, mindfulness and active listening without talking. What a great way to start a Monday!

    • Thanks so much Carolyn 💗. We can all uplevel our listening. I believe we can aim for mastery knowing it’s unlikely we get there. And every step is a step closer to truly connecting and honouring and wanting to understand another human being. We all deserve that. Yes ??

  3. Dear Nicola,

    Listnening is something that is taken for granted. Witnessing a far away look of someone you are talking with intimates they are preparing an answer. Listening is empathy. Listening projects genuine interest. Genuine listening comes from the heart. Welcome to Bizcatalyst360. You are amongst friends.