the listening challenge

"No single characteristic reveals as much about a person as their ability to pay attention to others."

Gordon Livingston | 1938 – 2016 | American psychiatrist & writer

I shared an aspirational compliment with you last week about the late food & culture renaissance man, Anthony Bourdain. It was about his attentive kindness with some strangers in a bar.

It reminded me of a listening project we did years ago where over 2,000 of our subscribers shared their thoughts on the most important characteristics of a good listener. Top 3…

  1. Gives complete & focused attention to the discussion
  2. Remains patient & doesn’t interrupt
  3. Confirms understanding by rephrasing pertinent discussion issues

If you’d like to be a better listener (someone who's kind and patient), consider a simple approach to strengthening your listening skills by giving attention to those three points.

A few details to practice…

  • Look at people while talking with them. Acknowledge key points with a nod, smile, or brief comment (“I see”, “I understand”, “Right”)
  • Dismiss distractions … phones, texts, emails, other people.
  • Show more interest in the other person and their thoughts by asking questions.
  • Avoid interrupting. Add a small gap of silence between what someone says and your response … just an extra beat or two. (Consider the kindness of someone doing this for you. Ahhhh.) If/When you catch yourself forgetting not to interrupt … stop and apologize. “I'm sorry. I cut you off. What were you saying?” Enjoy how it reinforces your future self-awareness.
  • Minimize thinking through your clever response to what someone says while they’re saying it.
  • On a challenging or important issue, confirm your understanding of what someone says by rephrasing and sharing what you feel you heard.

A more enjoyable day for everyone. That's the goal. 

Thanks for listening!

Oh and this reminder to be where you are...

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