After one presentation, a student eagerly exclaimed, “I’m a doer and I just want to do something.” Her statement implies the question: How? How do you make an impact in an environment that is equally empowering and overwhelming? The answer, I believe, starts with an old-fashioned skill: Listening. Listening enables trust, and trust is the foundation of positive change. We need to slow down and listen more before doing….Across this spectrum of making a difference, one thing is common: Doing well often begins with listening well, and that’s a skill we can all work on, regardless of our age.
[from When It Comes to Helping Others: Just Do It by Rye Barcott; Retrieved May 18, 2011 from http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/18/when-it-comes-to-helping-others-just-do-it/]
In my classes this week, we have been discussing how to listen well. Here are a few suggestions from my lecture:
- Active listening – paraphrasing what the speaker says (to his/her satisfaction) before you may take your turn speaking. Most of us butt in when what we’re hearing doesn’t confirm our pre-existing perceptions. That gives the speaker a very clear message that we’re more interested in winning the argument than in learning something or in maintaining a relationship. Here’s an example:
- Asks sincere questions, ones that are not confusing or distracting (Counterfeit questions make statements; carry hidden agendas)
- Suspend Judgment – “if you are sure of your beliefs, you will not fear listening to other views.”
- Resist distractions by (a) thinking a little ahead/anticipate what is coming or (b) reviewing what was already said or (c) listening between the lines; filling in the gaps in the information provided
Tomorrow I will share the kind of listening that keeps people separated, keeps institutions stagnant, and keeps everyone engaged in it from fulfilling their potential.