Are you listening?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I used to have a manager who never really listened to what I was saying, he had an agenda, he had other people and departments to worry about and I was one of his least troublesome people so he would often talk about the others in our one to ones rather than listening to anything I had to say. It used to infuriate me that my one to ones were spent talking about other people. That was when he even turned up for them, often he didn’t, and didn’t even offer an apology let alone rearrange it.

I am aware that sometimes I can interrupt people when they are talking, usually because I have an example to share, or can see where it’s going so move the conversation on by making them aware that I understand what they’re talking about. As I am aware of this, it is something I try to stop myself from doing.  When I catch myself I stop talking and apologise for interrupting.

We all like to think that we’re a good listener, but are we really?  We might hear what someone is saying but are we actually listening to the words, the intonation, the timbre? So much more can be gleaned by fully listening to what and how something is being said.

Listening to others helps build trust, connects us, helps us to understand the people and world around us. How do we become a better listener?

Nidhi Kush Shah suggests some phrases that may help:

Thank you for sharing that…” – it can take courage and trust for people to talk and open up to us so we should thank them for putting their trust in us.

Tell me more / please elaborate” –we should use this to encourage a deeper exploration of the conversation, it shows that we are genuinely interested in finding out more.

Let me see if I am clear…” – this gives us the chance to paraphrase and add our own interpretation and allows the other person to know that we understand, or provide them a change to add or amend their story.

What I like about your idea is…” – again repeating what the other person said shows them that you are listening and offers support.

Can I interrupt / ask a question…” – some people are not concise or well-articulated.  When we want to move a conversation along its ok to use this kind of interruption so long as it’s in a way that is empathetic and respectful.

Being a good listener is a skill that most of us could probably do better at.  I know I could.


One thought on “Are you listening?

  1. Yep me too. Although not a corporate example, I’m definitely trying to listen more whilst getting to know some new people at the moment. I’m quite bad at adding examples of my own life to their stories rather than letting them finish telling me theirs. I made a definite effort the other evening to stop talking and listen 🤫


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