So, a couple of weeks ago I spent two days learning how to listen…
This sounds like spending two days learning how to tie your shoe laces but at the end I was still only maxing out around a level 2 listener (depending whose theories you’re good with, you can make it all the way to a level 5!) – pretty pathetic!
That’s because listening – not just hearing, but engaged, empathetic attentiveness – is H-A-R-D!!! It’s hard, because the key to real listening is to resist (and in fact actively reject) advising.
My father in law often mumbles, “The world is full of people wishing to act in an advisory
capacity” – you can taste the disdain.
I can’t remember one conversation where I’ve resisted dropping two cents in – asked
for or otherwise. Maybe it’s because we attach a value to an answer (a dollar value often in fact). Its quantifiable, in a way that simply listening isn’t. There’s nothing, for instance that shines a light on your dispensability at work, than sitting through a meeting without saying anything…thumb twiddler have an opinion!!!
But what if listening was more productive than advising? What if we took the view that we all have our own answers locked away inside our own private neurosis and it just takes a listener to allow us to vocally untangle it all and let the neurones connect things correctly to each other.
Here’s a challenge.
In the next conversation you have with a mate where they’re describing a pickle they’re in, let them do the bulk of the talking, if not all of it. If you must talk, say only things like; “how does that make you feel” (yes it’s lame, but it’s not advice); “what are your options”; “how could you go forward”. Importantly, resist saying “I think”; “I feel”; “I would”; “I did”.
See where the conversation goes, see if your mate arrives at a solution, see ‘how they feel’ about talking to you at the end of it and see how you feel having not said a word or at the very least given no advice.
You might start a very useful habit.
(And yes, I’m very aware that this whole blog has been a form of advice. 🙄)
These wise words come from the brain of Mandy Lawler.