It’s Your Intention
I’m a practical kind of person. I like formulas to follow when I’m working on a new skill. But as we talk about listening skills, I believe it all starts with intention.
What is your intention while someone else is speaking?
If your intention is to truly understand what someone thinks or feels, the rest of the steps come easy. If your goal is to be right, these steps won’t come so easily. You may have to fake it till you make it.
Sometimes when we’re uncomfortable and want to be included or accepted in a group, we talk too much when the best way to build relationships is to focus more on listening.
Or focusing may be the most difficult part of the task because we may be angry or sad or excited or hurt.
Recently I was having a conversation with a loved one about a matter that is really important to both of us. I wasn’t listening. I was pushing it asking her about it yet again because I was so afraid what would happen if the other person didn’t take action now. I knew I was being pushy, and I couldn’t seem to stop. That’s not an excuse. The other person handled my aggressive stance on their need to take action with grace and a trace of resentment.
The next week that same loved one reminded me to do something for the umpteenth time. I asked them to stop prompting me, as it was already on my schedule for the coming week. Oh the frustration I felt!!! It drives me nuts when people treat me like they think I’m stupid. Yup, then it happened.
She said it sounded like I was experiencing the same annoyance that she had been the week before. Ouch!
Make your intention to understand and hear the other person. Then all the technical factors become easier. Moving to a more private space. Removing distractions like your phone or setting a better time to speak. Eye contact. Repeating what the other person says to ensure you understand. Using a calm tone of voice. Listening all comes together faster when you really want to understand.
What can you do to focus your intentions the next time it’s important that you listen to understand?