This week I want to talk to you about listening to understand as opposed to listening to respond. Listening to understand is an influencing tool or technique I think is incredibly powerful.
Let me ask you this. Do you think that the vast majority of people are listening to understand you, or are they waiting for a gap so that they can respond based on something that you’ve said? Are they listening to respond or to understand?
Let me role model this for you. If you’re having a conversation and someone says, “you know, I had a wonderful weekend.” Someone who is listening to respond may say, “we did also, you know what we did? We went to the mountains, we went hiking, we went fishing, we had a BBQ and an overall wonderful time.” They just completely overshot what you said, didn’t acknowledge it, and told you what they did. They were waiting for a gap in the conversation so they could respond about what they had done.
Listening to understand sounds something like this:
“We had a wonderful weekend.” “Really, what made your weekend so wonderful?” “Well we went down to the waterfront and we did the ferris wheel.” “Was that the first time you rode the ferris wheel? What was it like? Were you afraid of the height? Did you like the view from up there? Who did you go with?”
Listening to understand why an event or experience is important to someone is transformational in your relationships. Why? Because what you’re doing is expressing an interest and concern for the other person. By doing so you are communicating how important the person is to you. When someone isn’t important you don’t listen to them. Listening is a powerful influencing tool in that when someone feels listened to they feel heard, they feel valued, they feel important, and they feel that you were the person that helped make them feel that way.
This week, if you want to have a more effective work week, find one person you will listen to understand as opposed to simply responding. If you do that, and when you do that, you are going to have a much more effective work week.