Listening well is a skill
What does it take to be a good listener? This article made me think about that. Here are a couple of takeaway thoughts:
We want people to like us. And so, there’s this urgency — let me tell you why I’m valuable … To really connect with another person, it works the other way.
Instead of trying to relate – we should ask follow-up questions.
“The shift response is when someone says something and then you shift the conversation back to yourself,” Murphy explains.
“And people often do that in the mistaken idea of ‘let me show you how I relate’, but it’s really ‘let’s talk about me now, enough about you’.”
Instead Murphy suggests embracing the support response by asking follow up questions. …
If you have that support response and you ask questions, you’ve gained so much, not only about the other person but maybe something that you’ve learnt from the conversation.
As a husband, father or teammate I make the mistake of listening just to ‘return serve’ and solve problems. I think the head space, particularly for us blokes, is:
“You have a problem so I will fix it. Here’s the answer. Stop talking now and let’s watch TV”
Real listening is not easy to do when you, probably correctly, feel in your work or volunteering that you are the ‘go to’ problem solver. This is just another task to conquer today.
But I am not the hero of every story. Sometimes I am the sidekick.
It might be easier for me to solve this problem or give an answer, but that way I have only helped a little. Maybe I need to listen, support and if needed guide or teach. Then I have solved not only today’s issue but future issues, and also supported and bonded with the other person in the process.
This is not easy! So practice is needed – and I have homework to do.
I guess the end result is that the people around us feel heard and supported. And in volunteering, like in families, this is the ultimate show of empathy and leadership.