True listening

From Michael P. Nichols, in The Lost Art of Listening: How Learning To Listen Can Improve Relationships:

There’s a big difference between showing interest and really taking interest.

 

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Asking questions to build relationships

From Starting Anew by Apple SVP Retail Angela Ahrendts:

My father used to always say, “Ask questions, don’t make assumptions.” Questions invite conversations, stimulate thinking, break down barriers, create positive energy and show your willingness to understand and learn. Questions show humility, acknowledgement and respect for the past, and give you greater insights into both the business and individuals.

How to have more valuable and rewarding conversations with people

Edited excerpt from 10 ways to have a better conversation by Celeste Headlee:

I’d like to teach you how to talk and how to listen. A lot of advice on this, like “look, nod and smile to show that you’re paying attention”, “repeat back what you just heard or summarize it”, is crap. There is no reason to learn how to show you’re paying attention if you are in fact paying attention. I have 10 basic rules:

1. Don’t multitask. And I don’t just mean set down your cell phone or your tablet. I mean, be present.

2. Don’t pontificate. Enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn. The famed therapist M. Scott Peck said that true listening requires a setting aside of oneself.

3. Use open-ended questions. Start your questions with who, what, when, where, why or how.

4. Go with the flow. Thoughts will come into your mind and you need to let them go out of your mind.

5. If you don’t know, say that you don’t know.

6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs. It’s not the same. It is never the same. All experiences are individual. And, more importantly, it is not about you.

7. Try not to repeat yourself. It’s condescending, really boring, and we tend to do it a lot. Especially in work conversations or in conversations with our kids.

8. Stay out of the weeds. Frankly, people don’t care about all those details. What they care about is you, what you’re like, what you have in common.

9. Listen. Listening is perhaps the number one most important skill that you could develop. Buddha said, and I’m paraphrasing, “If your mouth is open, you’re not learning.” And Calvin Coolidge said, “No man ever listened his way out of a job.”

10. Be brief. My sister says “A good conversation is like a miniskirt; short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject.”

All of this boils down to the same basic concept: Be interested in other people.

Listening for its own sake

Edited excerpt from Anger, by Thich Nhat Hanh:

Compassionate listening is not listening with the purpose of analyzing or even uncovering what has happened in the past. You listen first of all in order to give the other person relief, a chance to speak out, to feel that someone finally understands him or her. During this time you have in mind only one idea, one desire: to listen in order to give the other person the chance to speak out and suffer less. This is your only purpose. Other things like analyzing, understanding the past, can be a by-product of this work. But first of all listen with compassion.

Listening to your best imaginable opponent

From Fellow Trump Critics, Maybe Try a Little Listening by David Brooks:

I’ve been thinking a lot about the best imaginable Trump voter, who wasn’t motivated by racism or bigotry, who needed somebody to change the systems that are failing her.

Thinking about this best voter has helped me take an emotional pause. Many of my fellow Trump critics are expressing outrage, depression, bewilderment or disgust. They’re marching or writing essays: Should we normalize Trump or fight the normalizers?

It all seems so useless during this transition moment. It’s all a series of narcissistic displays and discussions about our own emotional states.

It seems like the first thing to do is really learn what this election is teaching us.

Listening to your kids

From How to raise a happy teen:

Listen and pay attention. When they walk in the door after school, you have a precious few minutes that they will divulge the secrets of their day with you. Be excited to see them. Put down that cell phone. Don’t waste this time making dinner or taking a phone call. Look them in the eye and hear what they are saying. Make their victories your victories. Be empathetic.

It is really hard to navigate high school and middle school. Don’t offer advice at this time unless they ask for it. Don’t lecture. Just listen.

It makes them feel important and valued. We all need to feel that way.