Here's the second in our series of posts about trust and its role in improving and developing communication. Before we continue, I'd like you to consider how you feel when you know you are not being listened to? It's a complete turn off isn't it ?
Here are Twenty One Ways to
“Up Your Listening Game!”
1. Focus on what’s being said and switch you inner thoughts off. This is a great skill to acquire and use: it creates space for you to really take in what is being said without “scripting the next thing you want to say” as you do.
2. Stay switched on and you can do this by not
mentally planning what to say next. This follows on from the above: when
we’re planning our response we’re not listening-and it shows!
are often tempted to label people on the basis of what they've said-this will
get in the way of good listening . Who people remind you of, the way you've responded to this sort of thing in the past can get in the way of good
listening. So can “negative bias”, it is part of above: because we've associated words used or the way in which they are said with our negative
images, we donate the associations to the person we’re now with.
4. Suspend your existing knowledge of and beliefs about the person to whom you are listening because of you don’t, you’ll be listening to yourself affirming what you believed before the conversation started. This cuts down on the chances of you hearing the message in the context in which it is delivered. Without this you can limit your capacity to accept that people are open to new ideas and might want to change.
don’t help! Honestly, they don’t. Give some thought to how you feel when you’re interrupted….
6. Let the other person develop their train of
thought. Not always easy but always valuable. We sometimes have to create
time, space and cues for this to happen.
the eye contact in place and not too intense-it sends out all the wrong
signals-honestly! Over focusing on the eyes is, generally speaking either
about attraction or aggression. You can triangulate your gaze between the upper eyes and above the
chin of the person with whom you are in conversation.
non-verbal attention matters. We can think about how people express
themselves with their hands. We can be on the lookout for fidgeting, looking away, looking
downwards and inwards.
8. Good non-verbal attention matters. We can think about how people express themselves with their hands. We can be on the lookout for fidgeting, looking away, looking downwards and inwards.
someone’s body language has changed, it’s for a reason-be aware, it can help
you to frame a helpful question/suggestion. It shows that you are building
- “I wonder if I could (ask
you a question/suggest?) is a good way of re-engaging when you've picked up on
a change followed up by
10. External distractions are just that. They are
external and distracting. (We’re not including unscheduled fire alarms here)
- “Tell me where you are with this right now?”
sticking your own labels on already crowded surfaces; “Well, what can you
expect from….”Keep open and focused.
12. There is a place for preaching and it’s not here!
13. If you’re coming up with a diagnosis, you’re
probably not listening to the patient! a. Given time and space, the speaking
and listening process increases the speakers opportunity to discover what needs
to change/ be done.
have their place and role-they can appear to close off discussion and leave
people feeling unheard and sometimes patronised
concerns and worries are just that-they are never irrelevant . They form part
of the person's day to day experience of life
16. No matter how tempting, there are times when telling people that “It’s not worth bothering about” it trivializes their concerns and may inhibit their confidence in expressing themselves . If it matters, it matters! We can ask questions along the lines of “How important do you think this will be in ……… (days/week/months etc..) We shouldn't however underplay the significance of concerns to the person who is affected by them.
17. False re-assurance is unhelpful, particularly if you’re in no position to legitimately offer it. “Oh don’t worry, that’ll never happen” is only valid if you are the person who was going to make “it” happen and have decided not to! Otherwise we need to consider the points raised in 16 above. We need too to be aware of our credibility given that we might not have the fullest of pictures of the day to day challenges and experiences of the person we are working with.
18. Show patience-use para verbals when people are taking time to develop their points . We use them nearly all of the time!
19. Collusion with the unacceptable is unacceptable. We present ourselves as positive role models. It is a standard that we must not let slip: our credibility goes with it!
20. Accept that there are occasions when you may have to work quite hard to truly understand how people feel. a. Understanding the day-to day experiences, ambitions and challenges of others is hard going. However, we meet our colleagues “Where they are.” We need to accept that isn't where we would like them to be!
21. Accept that there are times when you won’t understand how other people feel-offer them an affirmation “I can tell how strongly you feel about that.” It gives them an option to further explain and, should they not wish to so do, it’s a positive way of exiting the impasse.