Are you a good listener? Whether you think you are or not – how would you know?
It’s slightly alarming to realise that if you’re NOT a good listener, you probably won’t be aware of that fact!
As James Borg points out in his bestselling book Persuasion, it’s one of those things that people are often criticised for – but behind their backs.
Think about it – would you try to tell someone he was a poor listener? And would he listen?
Here’s an experiment. Offer to listen to someone – a good friend or family member, perhaps – for two minutes, as they talk about something that’s important to them.
Your job is to keep them talking, without speaking. If they stop talking, stay silent and wait for them to start again.
You can nod or make encouraging sounds, but:
- DON’T ask any questions
- DON”T offer your opinion
- DON”T start telling your story of when something similar happened to you…
- In short, DON’T interrupt!
Now set your phone’s stopwatch (really!) and do the listening!
Then ask your “listenee” how they found the experience.
For many people, it’s the longest they’ve been listened to in years! Even though it’s an unfamiliar experience, most people enjoy being listened to – it makes them feel very special.
And do notice how it went for you, as listener. Did you manage to complete the exercise? If so, well done! Did two minutes feel like a long time? Did you feel an almost unbearable urge to ask a question or tell a story?
And did you take on board what you were told? Could you draw a diagram or picture? Try it now.
P.S. This activity was taught to me by Wendy Sullivan, co-author with me of the book Clean Language. Thanks Wendy!