Share this challenge with everyone you know and let’s make it go viral. Our aim? To heighten the awareness of what it takes to really, truly listen to others and to give others that wonderful, rare feeling of truly being heard.
Without explaining what you’re doing, commit to one conversation each day for the next 7 days.
Your commitment is to listen without interrupting and without letting your mind wander. Your objective is to truly understand what’s being said — including the nuances, the emotions and the impact.
Since people aren’t accustomed to this level of listening commitment, you may need to encourage the speaker. Here are 5 ways you can draw out more information in a manner that makes others feel heard.
- Use command statements that invite more sharing. Say “That’s interesting. Tell me more.” Or prompt with “describe what that was like.” These statements convey you truly are interested in learning more.
- Resist the impulse to share common experiences. Even if you have a similar situation, save it for later. Instead, keep listening and let the other person do the talking.
- Lean into the conversation. Make eye contact as is appropriate and comfortable. There’s no need to nod excessively. Only nod if it comes naturally to you.
- Don’t be clinical. This is an exercise in empathy and connection, not a rote task you can do without emotion playing a role.
- Be comfortable with silence. When the other party pauses, you don’t have to fill in the space. When you allow silence, you invite additional sharing.
After each conversation, mentally review how others responded. You’ll notice how good they felt and how much they opened up to you. You’ll also experience a growing level of comfort as a listener. With this awareness, you will be leading by listening more often.