The Power Of Being Heard

At a time when most people could say, “Hand on heart”, that we are more connected to one another than ever before, I would say that we continue to feel more and more disconnected than ever.

Sure, we can interact with people on a daily basis, some even minute by minute, across the social media platforms, yet if we were to ask the question of why we do this, we would probably get one answer, “I want to feel that my deep longing inside of me is being met”.  The reality is that at some level it does provide a temporary fix, yet when it is over we need the fix again, and again, or to have more of it, more frequently.

The same is true for the other fixes that we seek in order to fill the gap, be it alcohol, drugs, sex, television, work, etc.

Does it fill the gap or does it numb the need for a moment?

I was reminded of this quite starkly whilst watching a short clip of Christian Pankhurst and a member of the audience he had invited on stage with him.  She had the courage to get on the stage and to ask for what she wanted.  She asked to be seen and held by Christian, and for her not to diminish the experience by continuing to maintain eye contact with him.

It was a most profound and beautiful moment.  At first, he stood about five feet away and looked at her, quietly, fully and totally in the moment.  You could appreciate some of what she was experiencing, perhaps for the first time in her life, through the way she breathed and how her posture changed.  You knew this was already having an impact on her.

Christian then moved closer, to within an arm’s length, still maintaining full eye contact and completely present with her.  She started to laugh awkwardly and moved her hand to her mouth a few times.  She was totally experiencing the feeling of being seen.  You could see her body ‘drop’ or on reflection, surrender to what she was now feeling.

He then asked if it would be alright to touch her, to which she replied, “Yes”.  Christian then placed his hands on her upper arms and held them.  Throughout all of this, both maintained eye contact.  Her awkward laugh changed to tears and then to uncontrollable sobbing.  At which point Christian asked her, “Tell me when you have had enough?”, which was enough for her to smile again, this time from a more joyous position, at which point they were able to embrace, which they did for about a minute.

How many times are we not seen, not heard?

Each time we get ignored we bury it inside, so as not to cause us further pain.  Yet it sits there, eating away, influencing our view of self (not worthy, not enough, insignificant) and influencing how we see the world (threatening, unfriendly, cold).  Our bodies react to this as a threat and in doing so negative chemicals are released, we go into a state of fight or flight, and we continue to live in fear.

On the plus side, when we do get seen or heard the impact can be considerable, the healing it gives, namely, the release of positive chemicals inside us, the affirming, the acceptance, the validation and the allowing, enables each of us to take a small step forward to being more of who we really are and to more fully ‘show up’ in the world.

Who could you be present with today and really see and hear them?


Colin D. Smith
Colin D. Smith
COLIN is ‘The Listener’, a listening skills specialist and the ‘go-to’ person for individuals and teams who want to be heard, think for themselves, and transform their business and personal relationships through active listening. Colin has that innate ability to actively listen to people. He works with management, project and creative teams, facilitating the development and improvement of their listening and thinking skills. Thereby equipping them to more effectively meet their business, relationship and service challenges. He also works privately with individuals, enabling them to feel heard and valued, to think more clearly for themselves, articulate their creative ideas, address their personal concerns, and achieve their personal and professional goals. Colin has had a varied and successful career in consultancy, business development, IT and customer support, across many sectors, including finance, motor, retail and the NHS. In looking back he realises that much of his success was due to his listening and connecting abilities. His inquisitive and curious mind also enables him to explore, with others, unusual, thought-provoking, yet grounded, observations and alternative approaches to business, people, systems, and change. To make things happen, and to take ideas and thinking further, he connects his Clients with his trusted network of entrepreneurs, consultants, thought leaders, free thinkers, coaches and change makers.

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    • Thank you Yvonne for your comment. Sadly, it is so true. People are rarely seen and heard. I often say that people are dying to be heard, literally and figuratively. Colin