Tag: Be Present

On Trying to Become a Better Listener

I am a terrible listener… there, I said it. Problem identified and maybe should be highlighted, starred, and underlined. So let’s start here, “Why?”…

  • I don’t really think my ideas/thoughts are more important than others…BUT then again maybe I really do (Ha…What’s wrong with me!)
  • I can definitely be easily distracted when someone is talking by one thing they said that I can’t wait to reply to, light them up on, prove myself right about, whatever, therefore missing everything said after that (Boooo, Me!)
  • I listen from my own frame of reference, not the other person’s (It’s all about me!)
  • I fixate on words used, not looking deeper for intent (Shallow Hal!)
  • I get really bothered when someone uses 1,000 words to state something easily said in 10 words (Is that really my problem? Guess so!) to the point of trying to finish statements for them
  • Maybe my worst offense of all… maybe I don’t look like I’m listening, so the other person (in many cases, my lovely wife) says,” you aren’t listening to me” and I repeat back exactly what she said (Freakin’ Mimicer!!! Talk about pissed…”You missed the meaning A–hole!!”)

WOW… that is a long list… I truly suck as a listener!

OK now, I’ve been reading, asking others, and taking notes and it is time to do better. Where to begin:

  1. Make sure I am calm and rational… usually not a problem (until pushed to the point of explosion of course as I don’t have that much self-mastery yet… off the rails! Working on it)
  2. Make sure I am showing I care with my body language: eye contact, lean forward, posture (arms, shoulders, etc)… walk and talk if it helps (removes distractions)
  3. Listen with the intent to understand (don’t get distracted thinking about your own reply, in fact, forget it).
  4. Listen beyond just what you hear with your ears (use your eyes, heart, and mind…am I capable? That’s a strong “Maybe”).
  5. Listen with purpose:
    • Listen from the other person’s frame of reference
    • Repeat back (in an unmimicing way) that which you don’t understand
    • Pay attention to the other person’s body language, tone, etc…. what are they feeling/thinking?
    • Be present and engaged
    • DO NOT finish their thoughts for them (Yikes! Bite that tongue!)
    • Make sure you accurately understand their point of view before rebuttal… ask questions

 

In short, I think this means genuinely care about the other person and what they are trying to communicate to me, right?

 

Examples:

  • I speak really poor conversational Spanish and no Japanese, but I tend to understand the conversations in Japan better as I tend to get fixated on Spanish words during conversations losing the overall meaning, whereas in Japan I just pay attention to tone, watch body language, etc..this is actually a rather amazing thing…the non verbal things you pick up are truly amazing…try it sometime with 2 people engaged in a language you don’t speak
  • I had a good customer who was very upset with me because we didn’t ask enough questions the first time we met and had to ask them in multiple follow-ups later. We did our homework the second time and finished the entire (very technical) conversation in 45 minutes and even got a tour out of it at the end because we had extra time and because we had shown enough respect as to make them think we cared.

Well, I’m not there yet, but trying to improve every day. If you know me and are reading this saying, “Dude, you are still a terrible listener”, I know, I’m trying, point it out…I really want to do better…efforting!