I am a good listener… I am one who can always list a thousand things I am bad at, but find it hard to find something good… (Yes, yes, yes – I am working on this)… but I am a good listener… I think I learned the skill early on as a means of survival not knowing it was probably one of the most positive skills I learned early on. I learned how to be safe, where “safe” was, and sometimes why things were as they were. I learned how to blend into the background and listen – yep, Survival 101… Listening….
Listening is not about you being quiet while the other person talks… although, certainly that is a good start… it is about YOU tuning into what is being said and “hearing” it. It isn’t about YOU formulating a response or an answer while the person is talking. It is about listening to the tone, the inflections, the pauses, the ups and the downs, etc… not just the words… it is about watching (if in person) the person talk… see the facial expressions, the non-verbal “talking”, the body movements. Sometimes it is all about what is not being said… it is listening to what is “being said” in the pauses…. It is about you being neutral, balanced and an active listener…. It is watching others while someone is speaking to “catch” a myriad of information. This is active listening.
So I was asked the other day by a person who is a life coach… “How do you not get angry when people make assumptions and are judgmental when I am answering their questions?” First of all this is a BIG kettle or pot of worms…. You will always find folks asking questions and “Expecting” xyz answers. If you don’t answer within the x-y-z then you are wrong. So with that in mind….
I think a good answer talks to the questioner where they presently are and doesn’t make any (significant) assumptions or judgments. A good answer will not contradict information the questioner gives… it isn’t about the answerer (you) either; it is about or at least clearly about the questioner.
First of all, I don’t assume anything about the person’s situation… if they say they are hungry, I won’t assume they want to eat now, etc. Don’t presume things. Although it takes a bit of brain power to remember that other people have different needs, resources and abilities than you do, it is the place to start… with an empty slate.
I can sometimes validly “see” you, but I can’t be 100% certain of what you want… what you are saying and not saying… so I need to be an active listener and let the questioner be a reflection of what is happening in their own lives…not mine… I don’t use this as “mirror” time… meaning you are mirroring what I need to learn (although after some reflection, I may learn from it)….when someone asks you a question… they get to be the center of their universe… we are to actively listen to the question… perhaps do some clarifying questioning so we understand what is being asked and then respond…
So how good of a listener are you?
Hmmmmmmmmmmm is that the coffee maker turning off? I think I “hear” that the coffee is done…. Bye….