The Secret to Listening

Hey You…come here…I want to tell you something…let’s keep this between us, ok? Want to know the secret of listening? It might surprise you, well, it shouldn’t surprise you, but I’m willing to bet that it will. You ready?

You have to care.

Sorry to be so blunt and a bit crass, but I’m serious. You have to show interest. That’s the big secret! Think back for a second over the best conversations you’ve ever had with people. Now think of your conversations that you’ve had today, or even this week. You have three types of conversations now in your mind; 1. Really Good, 2. Mediocre, 3. Terrible. Sound about right? Now what’s the difference between these conversations?

Interest

Interest [Noun] (According to Dictionary.com)

The feeling of a person whose attention, concern, or curiosity is particularly engaged by something.

Something that concerns, involves, draws the attention of, or arouses the curiosity of a person.

Power of exciting such convern, involvement, etc.; quality of being interesting.

Concern; importance

A business, cause, or the like in which a persona has a share, concern, responsibility, etc.

Sure, interest is a noun, but look at the words that describe it. Words like; attention, concern, curiosity, engage, draws, arouses, exciting, etc. Sure interest may be a noun, but it’s a very active noun.

Don’t be a Fake

Ever talked to a child and a few minutes in to the conversation they tell you to pay attention? I know it’s happened to me…interest is incredibly hard to fake. It requires full participation and if that attention isn’t given, people’s BS meters don’t take much to sound off. Sure, there are lots of reasons to lose interest; the story isn’t interesting, we don’t agree with the person, we may not even like the person we’re listening to.

Be a Shift Disturber

My friends Alan Quarry (@aquarry) and Karl Nieva (@TheKarltopia) talk a lot on Twitter about being a Shift Disturber. This is no different (well…maybe a different approach…). When you lose interest, or stop paying attention, you are beginning to judge. You are judging the other person, you are judging their story, you are essentially saying to person talking that you are better then them and for them to be quiet as they are wasting your time. You need to create a shift in your mindset and attitude.

Shift from Judgment to Curiosity

When you find this happening to you, shift your judgment to curiosity. Take an interest in what they are saying, ask questions to better understand, get into the story, view what it’s like to see it from their eyes. Shift judgment to curiosity.

When I find myself losing interest in listening to someone, I try to view it from their eyes, from their experience. I want to find out why this story makes them excited/sad/angry/emotional so that I can better understand them and the situation that they are talking about. This will give me better questions to ask them to hear more about the impact that they are talking about, but also builds rapport, trust, and a better relationship.

How about you? How do you shift judgment to curiosity?

                        author

Jason Dykstra

Jason is a Conflict Management Specialist who is helping organizations and congregations move from conflict situations to creative solutions. He specializes in relational and communication issues and uses his experience and training in mediation, group facilitation, conflict management coaching, speaking and teaching to aid you and your surroundings to better… MORE >

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