When You Listen, Listen Completely

The subject came up again in a recent discussion. It is amazing how we so often hear, but we don’t listen.

I know at least one person, but I think the number is actually many, who simply just hear noise unless the subject is about them. It’s not intentional. It’s not that they hate other people. Or don’t care about other people. It’s just not interesting to them, and all they hear is noise with an occasional word that sticks out.

Good salespeople listen to their customer or prospect. I can’t believe the number of times I’ve left a meeting where I was the support person for a salesperson and the salesperson had no clue what the prospect was actually saying. They were so filled with the good things they were going to say that they didn’t stop to listen.

Now sometimes, especially with your teenaged children, you will get the pushback, “You’re not listening to me” when what they really mean is “You don’t agree with me.” Listening doesn’t mean agreeing. It simply means “I’m listening.” It is a form of validating (I hate that word) the other person’s existence. It means you care enough to stop your own thoughts about yourself and care about the other person.

Here are some ideas I may have used:

  • Take a deep breath to help you focus on the other
  • Look at their mouth–I know, you need to look at their eyes to show you’re there, but watching their mouth helps reinforce the words you hear
  • Give a response frequently–I don’t speak Japanese, but when I was importing from Japan and dealing with Japanese people daily, I was taught that the word “Hai” that you hear all the time in a conversation that is translated “yes” means “yes I hear you” not “yes I agree with you”–so respond to keep you in focus
  • Lean a little toward the person without violating personal space–although sometimes a hand on the shoulder is appropriate
  • Try to remember the mantra “it’s not always only about me”

 

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