Really stop talking? That’s a little strange coming from a coach who specializes in communication. After all, my work is focused on helping clients design and participate in conversations to create clarity and understanding. That requires a fair bit of talking.
It’s possible to create breakthroughs in communication through a finely tuned understanding of the ways in which what we choose to say and how we choose to say it, affects people. Creating distinctions between how and when we talk, the words we choose and our tone of voice is one of the cornerstones of effective collaboration with workmates and a personal life that you want to be live.
So if talking is so great, why stop doing it?
When we stop talking, we utilize the incredible power of listening.
And I don’t mean the listening that happens when we are trying to think of what we will say when that other guy stops talking. I’m talking about the listening that happens when you set aside your ideas, assumptions, concerns and self-talk, and truly L I S T E N.
Can you remember a time that someone truly listened to you? When I ask people this question, they often can pick out a few clear times when someone set everything else aside and listened to them. That is “transformational” listening. If you practice transformational listening, you create space for significant shifts in perspective and understanding and awareness on both sides of the “conversation.”
Here’s the good news: If you can truly listen in this way, you will create a transformation in your relationship with your colleagues and direct reports in the workplace.
And a possible challenge: You may not have had many opportunities to strengthen your transformational listening muscle. If that’s so, you’re not alone.
But it’s mostly good news: Anyone can learn to practice transformational listening.
Coach Me Quick ideas for transformational listening:
- Imagine there’s a beautiful glass table between you and the person who is speaking. The speaker’s job is to put items on the table. Your job is to be curious about the items on the table without adding your own items.
- Let go of any assumptions, opinions or judgements you might have about what might be important about the items the speaker has placed on the table. Instead, be curious about those items – eager to learn more from the speaker.
- Stay present by focusing on specifics. Our brains can listen to the speaker, assess our own thoughts and opinions, think about what we had for lunch and plan what we should say after the speaker stops talking all at the same time. Unfortunately, there is not much transformational listening happening when we are performing all those amazing magic tricks with our brains. Use focus as a tool by noticing tone of voice, emotions under the words that are being spoken and the speakers facial expressions.
- Use “how” and “what” questions which are expansive questions inviting the speaker to elaborate and you to gain more information about what is important to the speaker.
- If the speaker stops talking and you have been listening with such intensity that you don’t immediately know what to say, that is ok. The right question will come to you easily and it will be a follow up to what you just heard, thanks to that transformational listening. This will further validate the speaker and let her know, you have been listening.
Try it out and let me know what you learn and share your listening tips with me!
Staying curious in L.A.,
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