“This devaluing of listening is handed down from generation to generation. There are many children who don’t have the experience of being listened to by their parents. If we’re not listened to, then that doesn’t create a desire inside us to listen to others. Societally, we don’t value it. As parents, we tend to be in Tell rather than Listen mode.”
Why should I focus on my listening skills at work and in my interactions with the people that I respect or like or even those that I don’t?
Because conscious listening (truly listening and taking each other in) always leads to greater levels of understanding. A truth we so often forget in the busy of our lives.
Be Quiet and Listen
In order to listen we must be willing to be quiet before offering up our own stories or personal opinion or even our solutions. Yes, shhhh. Be quiet, listen to the person in front of you.
Mistakes We Make When We Want to Be Heard
I see discomfort with listening come up a lot of the time – from people looking to sell you a product or service who have forgetten to be curious and enquire more about the person in front of them. To new coaches who tell you what you need without their client even being given the space to reveal what their challenge and their need actually is.
When we are desperate to be heard, or to make a sale, so often we amp ourselves up and decide ahead of time that we have a solution for a problem – without ever discovering whether or not the person we are speaking to actually sees it as a problem and is looking for a viable solution.
Seeking Permission and Respecting Boundaries
Better yet, one choice we could all make before offering unsolicited advice might be to practice asking, seeking permission – ” Do you want an opinion on that?”
Sometimes, honestly, people just don’t. But at least you’ll have honoured their boundaries and not wasted time sharing a perspective that simply wasn’t desired or considered to be of use. People generally feel disrespected or invisible for every time we offer an opinion without having taking time out to find out if it’s even desired. Some people might even find it condascending honestly.
All talk and no listening does not make for good sales, business or bonding.
Everytime you think you want to be better heard and seen – remember that the other person shares the same universal desire as well
If we can remember that we all need to feel heard, understood and validated this might help a little in our interactions. (A need that is as old as time itself and at one point in history would have been linked to our survival.)
I teach active listening skills based on my work and life experiences, alongside my therapeutic and acting training.
Put your phone down and remember that listening takes a moment of genuine effort
Listening is an active state that requires conscious effort. It also requires the person we are listening to – to actually feel listened to!
In other words, just assuming that you’re listening is not enough.
We must pay attention to the person that we are listening to. Do they feel truly heard?
If the person we are listening to doesn’t feel heard or we aren’t sure, then we must be willing to adapt and listen even more keenly.
This could show up in many simple ways.
Leaning in, eye contact, nodding to show that we are actively engaged in listening, or simply telling ourselves to give our colleague or friend our undivided attention. This is an incredibly powerful shift to make.
Do I care? Could I care more?
In acting class one simple strategy we use to help us be less self absorbed or distracted and to make our listening come alive and be more authentic is to ask ourselves “Do I care?” (about our scene partner) & “Could I care more?”
And if we don’t, our job is to recommit to caring more about the quality of connection between ourselves and our scene partner.
Often simply asking those 2 questions will revive our focus and the body naturally reorganises itself into a more focused listening state – we give our undivided attention.
To learn more about ways we can work with you on your team’s active listening skills, do please reach out.
Conversely, I’d like to talk and hear more from you in order to best discover what challenges your teams might face and even walk in your shoes for a time, to better understand the specific needs your business might be facing.
Knowing that your employees feel they belong and are valued makes work both more fulfilling and pleasurable.
Studies also show that a sense of belonging significantly impacts upon your bottom line. Reduced absenteeism, a more optimisitic and reslient work culture, reenaged connection and social bonds, less burn out, more cooperation and productivity and a sense of pride in one’s work.
If your company would like their teams to work on their listening skills, let’s talk!