For the past few months, I’ve been writing about the art of being a good listener – relaxing, focusing, asking clarifying and conversation-expanding questions, caring (honestly) about what the other person is saying, not thinking about your next response. I know it isn’t easy, but in doing these things we learn more and develop richer relationships as a result.
Today I have been thinking about how it works when I am leading the conversation. Am I easy to listen to? And if not, how can I improve?
Sharing News and Updates: When we are out with friends or family, or catching up before a business meeting, it seems good to remember:
- Conversations should be balanced. My stories and information should match the context of the gathering and be timed to give others time to speak. Some of us seem to have the need to tell “everything” and others seem awfully “guarded.”
- Kindness and positivity counts. Conversation isn’t a competition. It’s about interesting dialogue.
- If we want to create connection, trust, and loyalty, then we need to share some (but not all) of ourselves in relaxing ways. Do you agree?
When Facts, Data and Agreements Matter: This can be true in social and in business settings. I find it helpful to set the stage a bit when my listener needs to pay close attention. Perhaps I can pause a moment and say something as simple as, “I’d like to talk about the date. Are we ready?” That way if attention has drifted, we can all refocus and move ahead more easily.
Challenging Conversations: These are the conversations that require planning. Too often we want to simply lower our anxiety level and worry about consequences later. The challenge, of course, is that blurting out emotional statements usually raises anxiety! I confess (and I have shared before) in these situations, I always resort to GROW (Goals, Realities, Options, Way Forward). If I take a few minutes to think about my “Why” and what I hope to gain, the process becomes pretty straightforward.
Conversations either build relationships or create a weakness. This week I will be practicing both the art of listening and the art of being easy to listen to.
I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on this “every day” topic!