Monday, November 7, 2011

Developing Our Listening Skills Part 2

We have goals while listening to our team members.  If we expect any sort of buy-in, or want them to get behind our goals they have to feel that we have heard them.  So, I guess I should add some things that we should avoid saying when someone is speaking...

Yeah, I hear you but (anything)
Yeah, we've tried that and it didn't work (whatever 'it' might be, and even if you have)
Shut up and listen!
Here's what you need to do...
I don't care... 
Yeah we all have problems
I don't like that idea
We can't do that
That won't work
Tell me about it...
That's just part of life/working here/anything
That's not what's happening
That's not how you feel
It's not OK to feel that way
Yes you can (when the speaker states that they cannot do something, even if you believe/know they can)
OK, but it doesn't matter...
That's not important
Cool story bro, tell it again...

In my experience, once one of my team members feels heard and understood, I can give constructive feedback, disagree, redirect them, and make suggestions about how they might act in the future, and THEY WILL LISTEN!

Some years ago while I was taking a class at the Pennsylvania Gestalt Center, Mariah Fenton Gladis told us to replace the word 'but' with the word 'and'.  She said that it doesn't matter to the listener what we say before the 'but'... the 'but' discounts everything you said before it.  The listener is not very likely to really 'hear' what we said before the 'but'.

When we use the word 'and' both things (what we said before 'and' and what we say after) can be true.

For instance:
You're a really good team member, but...
You're a really good team member, and...

I really respect your work, but...
I really respect your work, and...

Over the years I've found this to be great advice.  Using 'and' allows us to genuinely compliment someone AND say something constructive in a way that allows both to be heard.
Reflect on times when you were not heard.  How did you feel?  How did you feel towards the person you were talking to?  Do your best to hear and understand when you are listening.

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