“Jon, what do you mean I need to learn to listen!
“I listen all the time. Its what everyone does isn’t it?
“You don’t need to tell me how to suck an egg!!”
Well, I’m not sure anyone has actually said that to me – but pretty sure, if pressed on the topic, they might.
And I might respond with ….
“Well sure. Although if you look around, you may notice there are ‘levels’ of listening. Some of us have seen good listeners in action. Some of us haven’t. And usually, we pretty much do what has been modelled for us”.
Three Good Things
My SUNDAY post last week on the topic of listening had a pretty high aspirational aspect to it. And so, it’s back to basics this week. Check them off in your next ‘listening experience’ at work or ‘coffee time’ with a friend.
1. The Invitation to Talk
Some people find it difficult to know how to start to talk about things. Others have no trouble this way and barg right in. But in most occasions the simple question … “Could I talk with you ?” or… “Do you have a minute?” is quite acceptable and pretty helpful.
In closer relationships the actual question may seem clunky. Or maybe not. However, regardless of the nature of the relationship, this is still a necessary first step in setting something up, i.e. to check the readiness of the other person to engage at that time. Just because I’m ready to talk doesn’t imply that the other person is. This step may also happen in any number of subtle ways. Just don’t neglect the step.
2. Tuning In
In friendship circles, it is not uncommon to talk about ‘being on the same wavelength’ (or not). This often has to do with the ability to ‘tune in’ to the other person; to be in their frame of reference – so as to create a harmonious connection. Couples, in particular, need to pay attention to ‘tuning in ‘ to each other when returning home after their day etc.
This is also called ‘Joining’ and has a physiological (body) component to it, meaning, it can be felt. It feels like ‘settling in’.
3. Listening with Interest
It is surprising how much internal movement can come simply through being heard.
At the same time, it is surprising the anxiety we feel when words are spoken primarily to try and resolve or fix an issue for us. (In this scenario, anxiety usually begets anxiety).
But most often, listening with interest is all that is needed for us to feel heard and move toward internal resolve. Listening with interest is charachterised by these 5 basic components:
- Minimal responses
- Brief invitations to continue
- Affirming non-verbal signals
- Calm tone of voice
- Some quiet moments
More on these 5 next week.
“You are worth slowing down for”