Simply Listening is Simple, But Not Easy

iStock_3612253Sm-hummingbird-375x400 facing leftHow do you define trust? Especially in our work life?  My post on having an obligation to sell generated a few responses and one stood out.

“I avoid it [selling] mostly in situations where I value “trust and credibility”. Maybe I should try because I “believe”, but risking trust and credibility is daunting to me. These are valuable to my core identity. When faced with this I usually simply listen.

Kudos to Mark for having the presence of mind to simply listen when trust is important (most of the time). Much of the the time I do not. Especially the part about simply.  When I am listening I am often trying to figure out my answer.

In one of the greater ironies of life…

  • the more I care about the person or situation
  • the harder I work to figure out a great answer for them
  • the less I truly listen

KC_OverTheHump_Masthead 230x200Since feeling heard is tightly linked to trust, in this scenario I am putting the important relationship factors of trust at risk when I am figuring stuff out rather that witnessing.

Unlike Mark, I have to work at simply listening, so am always on the lookout for good practices to help me keep my mouth closed and my mind disengaged.  Here are a few:

  • If we feel the need to answer, practice simply telling the speaker what we heard them say, not creating a resolution.  If truly hearing someone is powerful, think about the value in taking the time to ensure we heard them correctly.
  • Project the word WAIT on to the forehead of the person talking.  WAIT stands for Why Am I Talking.  Oh yeah, they are talking for a reason and we both benefit if I hear the reason too.
  • The MindTools blog tells to defer judgement by allowing the speaker to finish each point before asking questions.  Easy to say and challenging to do.

What about you?  Are you easily able to simply listen?  Or do you need to remind yourself and use tools and techniques.  Please share by commenting  below and help us all learn!

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3 thoughts on “Simply Listening is Simple, But Not Easy

  1. Hi Lisa,

    wow. 5 more weeks and you’ll have completed 3 years of these newsletters. I am so impressed.

    Personally I love listening. Listening to stories, jokes, music, banter and generally don’t worry about my response – not necessarily a good thing because when I do respond i’m in the moment of responding and may not be as articulate nor as fast as others who have been working on what they are going to say. That generally is OK because I know and will often remember what the other person said over long periods of time. Listening can be a game – making it a game in my opinion makes it easier to listen – one of my games is to try to relate experientially to what is being said – can I feel that way or think that way?


    • Hi John,
      Thanks so much for remembering about the longevity of Over the Hump! I truly still enjoy writing them–life brings so many inspirations! Thank you also for continuing to read.
      Great insights on listening and letting others have time for their response. I believe that being in the moment in our responses is the most powerful for all parties involved. However it’s challenging for many of us, and you are an inspiration. Thanks again!
      Joyfully yours, Lisa