Christy Largent

By Christy Largent

The Lost Art of Listening

The Lost Art of Listening 150 150 Christy Largent

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

“God gave you two ears and 1 mouth for a reason. Listen twice as much as you speak.”

“I’d better turn up my hearing aid.”

We are so inundated with noise. Even when it’s silent noise. Our Instagram feed. The TV muted in the LR. The playlist that automatically comes on when you start the car. We are constantly surrounded by input.

And with all that output from others, I think I’m missing out by not saying something myself. This morning when I went through my emails, I got this sick feeling. I’m just not doing enough. And then I reminded myself I just needed to do the next right thing. And for me, that meant lacing up my shoes and heading out for a long walk. I didn’t have to worry about everything I had to do. Just the next thing I wanted (and needed) to do.

And listening is kind of like that. I know I need to listen, but I’m so worried my message will go unheard, I just want to spout it out.

When I was just barely 30, I signed up to teach English in Hungary. I ended up with a marvelous roommate named Amy. Amy was my opposite, of course! And our year was filled with “learning opportunities” ahem, for both of us.

We ended up parting as good friends and about 2 years later I got the invitation to her wedding. She had met a wonderful man, an attorney, he was from a well connected southern family with deep roots and deeper traditions. His 2 sisters were taking her under their wing. When I called to congratulate her on her engagement, she said she was having some difficulty settling in. She said his sisters were bringing her presents, inviting her to luncheons, and introducing her to friends. She sighed and said, “But Christy, you know what I really want?” (And I’m thinking…”What else is there?” 🙂 ) “I really just want them to come in, sit down, grab a cup of tea and say, Hey Amy, how’re ‘ya doing?”

And with that story, Amy cut to the heart issue when it comes to listening. And what was true for her, is true for your team members too.

They really just want you to show them you care by taking time to listen.

A few of the benefits of listening include:

  • Listening shows you cares.
  • It shows you really are interested.
  • Listening gives you the information you otherwise might have missed.
  • Listening gives you understanding.
  • Listening shows empathy.

So how do you do it?

Here’s a quick reminder…What I call, The 3 F’s

Focus

  • Put away all distractions
  • Turn your body towards them
  • Tune into their message with your eyes

Follow

  • Match your body language to theirs (but don’t be a dork!)
  • Nod your head to show you are following
  • Repeat back to them their words as confirmation you are following

Feedback

  • Ask questions for clarification
  • Use open ended questions (5-W’s)
  • Who, What, When, Where and sometimes Why
  • Beware of Why – it can cause defensiveness
  • Confirm you correctly understand… “So what I hear you saying is…”

And finally, beware the worst habit of all…when you listen well, you will hear their needs pop up. Most of us, because we have a good heart and want the best, take this opportunity to give them…UNSOLICITED ADVICE!

But I’m begging you…before you pipe up with your ideas, ask yourself these 2 questions:

  1. What gives me the right to give this advice? You might have the right, so then make sure you answer question #2.
  2. Is it in the best interest of the relationship to give this advice?

In the workplace, we frequently do have the right, and are expected to give the advice. But, here’s the thing: sometimes, your employee will come to their own solution by your skillful guidance (listening skills) rather than you telling them the solution outright. And as you well know, when someone comes up with the solution on their own, they are much more likely to be committed to and follow through with the solution.

And when it comes to listening with our friends and family, do the hard work to answer these questions before you unload. My guess is about 90 – 95% of unsolicited advice is better left unsaid. Which I think is a conversation for another article. 🙂

Have a great week, and I’ll look forward to hearing how your listening is going…and how you’re doing regulating your unsolicited advice giving. Oh, and if you’re looking for a little help remembering, I put together a free Tip Sheet to help you become a Super Listener. Click Here for your copy.

Christy Largent is a positivity expert and professional speaker. She is hired by corporations and associations that want their employees/members to boost morale, increase teamwork and strengthen communication skills. When she’s not speaking or writing, she’s practicing her stand up skills sitting down, driving her 2 kids to tennis and lacrosse events all across the Dallas metroplex.

Share This