What is listening really?
It’s an act of respect that creates a gateway for understanding between two people. Unfortunately most of us don’t take the time to stop and listen as well as we could. We may hold the belief that we already know what someone is about to say. That belief is based on our experience of them, of the subject, or of having had a similar experience before.
That’s not the point of listening, though. Great listening means stopping that incessant, internal chatter in your mind to actually hear what the other person is trying to communicate.
Listen to understand – that’s a great listening guide post. Think about the people you know and ask yourself who among them is a good listener. You might find that the best listeners are also excellent question askers. People who ask deep questions are often our favorite people to talk with. They make you feel heard by asking for clarification, and more information.
Here are some questions to help you asses the kind of listener you are:
When you listen, are you engaged?
Are you interested in finding out more?
Do you wait (sometimes impatiently) for your turn to speak?
Do you ask good questions?
Do you create a space for the speaker, to build a bridge of trust?
This week watch yourself listening. See how and where you choose to listen more deeply and expand the conversation. Try to catch yourself when you’re rushing someone towards the end of their story, and waiting for them to get to the point.
A client shared a story with me of how he became a better listener. He said he created a small card and carried it into every meeting…the card read “They might be right.”
What’s your creative genius tip to help yourself listen better?
This week work to hear what the people around you are saying. There might be a simple message in there just for you.