Saturday, March 14, 2009

Listen First . . . And Listen Empathetically

"Listening is a magnetic and strange thing,
a creative force. The friends who listen to us
are the ones we move toward.
When we are listened to, it creates us,
makes us unfold and expand."

Next time you find yourself in a passionate discussion or maybe even a heated argument, try something different. Rather than arguing your point of view and putting the other person on the defensive, listen to what they have to say.

I don't mean "shutting up" while they are talking - I mean listen. Turn off the TV and the computer screen. Don't think about what you want to say next. Don't think about what you're having for dinner later. And definitely don't stare off into the sunset, waiting for the noise to stop.

Just listen to them.

And, if you manage to stay focused on the words for more than a minute or two, try to listen past the words and hear the meaning and feelings behind the words.

I know, it sounds hokey. And you are probably asking yourself,

How am I going to win the discussion or argument, if I all I do is listen? I've got to give my opinion in order to change their mind.

But when you listen first and ask sincere questions about what the other person is trying to share, you might be surprised by what happens.

By listening first, you are demonstrating that you care about them as individuals - what they say and how they feel matters to you. And believe it or not, you are building trust. You are demonstrating to them that it's not an argument that you are trying to win, but rather a winning solution you are trying to find with them - the right solution.

And believe it or not, when someone trusts you, they actually begin to want to hear your opinion and gain your advice. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But if you continue to practice the art of listening first, you will be surprised at the influence you gain - simply by building trust.

"The reason why so few people are agreeable in conversation is that each is thinking more about what he intends to say than about what others are saying, and we never listen when we are eager to speak."
Francois La Rochefoucauld

1 comment:

  1. Great reminder! Considering something from someone else's perspective with the full intention of putting myself in their shoes is very powerful. I find that staying true to my core while fully empathizing with the person I'm with always brings depth and growth.
    Awesome post.