Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Why are you waiting to speak?

By Emma Altman, Training Consultant at Maven Training

The internet. Wow! What a bargain!

I’ve just read an article on someone’s web page about listening (I was looking for a listening quote when I stumbled across it) and I really like this guy’s way of thinking;

One of the challenges that gets in the way of good listening is a habit many of us fall into; waiting to speak. We know we do it – but it’s quite a hard habit to change. Well this guy said you should “listen without thinking about how you’re going to respond”. It’s a subtly different way of looking at the problem - and I like it. In all my efforts to improve my listening, this is my biggest challenge – thinking about what I’m going to say next.

Sometimes I think of a funny anecdote that relates to what they’re telling me. Other times I’m trying to contribute or be helpful at work or at home and I’m thinking about how I see that issue or what the solution might be, or I’m training people and I’m thinking about what information is going to help this person.

Either way – part of me stops listening and begins composing a response – sometimes it can be as early as part way through the first sentence.

And when I read that statement; “Listen without thinking about how you’re going to respond” suddenly, I got it!

1. I don’t need to compose my response while they’re still talking – I can make time for that when they’ve finished.
2. I don’t have to worry that I’ll forget what I want to say – if it’s important enough, I’ll remember it later – and if not, it wasn’t that important in the first place
3. I need to trust myself to come up with the right response when I need it (rather than rushing ahead) and to take the time to ask more questions or summarise what I think I’ve heard in order to come up with the right response.
I think I’ve always been so busy focusing on the task of coming up with the right thing to say in response – that I’ve been busy trying to get ahead with that instead of listening.

So I have taken the usual steps to change this habit;

1) Admit I have a problem or there is room for improvement
2) Identify when I do this
3) Be aware of when I am doing this
4) Choose to concentrate on listening – and forming my response after

The result? I’ll report back in a couple of weeks…

1 comment:

  1. “Listen without thinking about how you’re going to respond” - Great post - this is a regular topic of conversation in our office!
    Regards, Ryan http://eatjobs.co.uk