I’m just as guilty as the next person in my communication. I walk around totally in my head and when someone asks me a question like, “How are you?”, well I’m off to the races! Next thing I notice is that poor person who was kind enough to ask me how I was, was now a victim of my regurgitation of the mouth.
So I came up with an exercise challenge for myself and for our communication/leadership workshop attendees. Focus on what we call “active listening” for one day and see what you learn from it. Now if one day seems too long for some of you, chunk it down to a time that works for you. A couple of hours, fifteen minutes, just start where ever you feel comfortable and track what happens during your “active listening” exercise.
So this is how it works:
Commit to talking almost always in questions. Like, “What do you think…”
Restrain yourself in over-talking and while the other person is speaking, respond with words like, “I see”, “That makes sense”, “Yes”, or “Go on”. Some people suggest repeating back phrases of what you’ve just heard like “repeating back phrases, I see”.
Focus your eyes on their face, eyes and/or mouth. Don’t let yourself be easily distracted from what’s going on around you, give them the gift of you being present.
Always thank them for sharing and mean it!
Prepare and expect something wonderful to happen. I don’t know what it will be, but something always happens when it becomes about them and not about you.
After practicing active listening on a few people, let us know what did you experience?