Want to do something tough? Try being an active listener.
I was asked by a client to speak about active listening to his managers today. The more I thought about what I’d say, the more I realized how much of an oxymoron it would be do so. So instead of speaking about it, we practiced it.
They were none too pleased when instead of opening up a power point presentation, I asked them to “write what you’re thinking.” We do this a lot at BTL practices. It’s actually quite fun to see people’s reaction when we ask them to write. You can literally see their brains go from ‘passive listening’ mode to ‘time to focus’ mode in an instant.
Here is a list of other things we practiced to be active listeners:
- write notes along the way that make sense and aren’t just catch phrases so when you read it later you know what it was about
- if you share your notes, don’t read them, speak from the heart. The practice of recall activates the brain.
- interpret what you are hearing and ask if it’s what’s being said
- summarize what you are hearing and ask if you’re missing something
- “and” (build off) what others are saying
- ask clarifying questions like, “what did you mean when you said…” or “tell me more about…”
- write a narrative after all is said and done so when you read it later you know what it was about
Pick a few and see how tough it is to do them without a builder making you. Active listening is tough, it’s the real-hard-work. Your brain will fatigue so much faster than you can imagine, but don’t give up, keep practicing. You can do more than you think…