Listening is critical in communication and in building relationships, motivating change and getting things done.
Part of mastering communication is training our ears to hear differently, to listen differently and to respond differently.
Listening involves circling back to clarify what we hear.
Knowing how to listen and respond saves time.
Try this best listening practice:
When clarifying the meaning of what someone says,
- Don’t ask a question. Don’t seek clarification in the form of a question
- Seek clarification through a Statement
A reflective listener forms a reasonable guess of what the original meaning is, and presents it back to the person in a statement.
The idea here is that questions ask the person to explain themselves. They require a response, which can spiral into defensiveness and justification.
Statements trigger thought, less defensiveness, and thus keep the door open for more exploration and communication.
Other benefits of these “best guess” statements:
- Requires you to focus on what is being said
- Prevents you from jumping into giving your opinion before it’s asked
- Signals that you are listening
- Prompts the person to reflect on what s/he said
- Helps the person feel heard
Try it. It will save you time.