How many times have you been in a conversation and have felt that the person you are speaking with really didn’t listen to a thing you said? They were either staring through you, distracted by the surroundings, or already blurting out something about themselves in relation to your story. It can get a bit frustrating. I personally find that it is harder and harder to connect with people who are fully present. They are are often checking their cellphones or computers for emails or text messages or even surfing the net.
How refreshing would it be for someone to listen to what you have to say without saying anything until you are done? Would you have finally received the air time you have been waiting for? I am in the midst of listening to and reading Mark Goulston’s book entitled, Just Listen as he shares some information about how to get through to anyone. One of the areas he discussed is to not only act interested but be interested in a conversation. Goulston stated that there are 3 keys that will help you demonstrate that you are more interested in the people you are talking to or in conversation with:
- “Stop thinking of the conversation as a tennis match.” (Goultston, 2010, pg.59) When someone is speaking, don’t worry about formulating the next question. Be a detective and learn more. Stop, actively listen expectantly to what is being said. Maintain eye contact. If you are truly listening, you will intuitively have a question come to mind to ask.
Intuitively you will know…
Recently I met a gentleman whose primary language was not English and when he is conversation he stated he is constantly trying to translate the language in his head and prepare the next question. He stated that his family members often commented that he is not truly listening. He is a very smart and well respected man. I asked him to come from a place of curiosity and understanding when speaking to his family members or even his co-workers. With relief, he said he would give it a try as he said it would relieve a lot of pressure if he was not focusing on the translation and the formulation of the next question at the same time.
Ask more questions…
2. “Ask questions that demonstrate that you want to learn more.” (Goulston, 2010, pg. 60) Lean in and use your body language and eyes to demonstrate your interest in the topic. You will find that people will start to feel more comfortable sharing stories about themselves when you take a genuine interest in who they are.
Mark Goulston provided the “FTD” framework:
F -“I feel x…”
T – ” I think y…”
D – “I did or would do z…”
This framework allows a person to open up and share what is meaningful to them.
Take a genuine interest…
3. Do the right thing – shut up and listen!
Ask another question about what you heard. Ask the person who it sharing the story to tell you more. Summarize what you have heard.
Live an interesting life…
Talking about yourself and sharing how great you are and not asking about another person about themselves can make others feel intimidated and that they cannot relate to you. It is important to take a genuine interest in others. The best advice I can give you about bing interesting is to lead an interesting life so when others take a genuine interest in you – you can share how you feel, what you think, and what you do or would do. People can learn things that they did not know about you. You may also learn how more alike you are to another person versus focusing on the differences you may have.
The art of listening is a communication technique that can transform relationships and business. No matter what processes and systems are in place, people are human and need to feel that they are heard, understood, and made a contribution. I highly recommend this book for your library.
Goulston, Mark. (2010). Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Just About Anyone. AMACOM. New York, NY.