You’re busy. You’re stressed.
You’re focused on the next thing you need to do.
You’re in a conversation that you don’t really have time for, but you politely (or maybe impatiently) wait for the other person to pause so that you can extricate yourself and move on to your next task. How many times does this happen each day? Who are you dismissing? A student? A colleague? A friend? A loved one?
For me, the practice of stopping to listen requires discipline, even though I know that my personal interactions as a teacher and leader have the potential to impact lives. Listening well is not my natural behavior (just ask my family), but I know that it is a powerful way to build and even transform relationships.
Then why am I such a bad listener and
how can I get better
I’ve got important stuff to do and need to keep moving, so I don’t give my full attention to the other person.
I will remind myself often that intentional, focused listening shows people that I value them.
I know where the story is going as soon as it starts. I don’t need to hear the whole thing.
Right, but the other person may need for me to hear it.
I can give it 2 minutes.
Just 2 minutes of my full attention.
I have a suggestion or an answer to offer right away that will solve the other person’s problem.
Maybe, but is a quick answer what they need, or do they need to think through it for themselves? I’ll remember to ask a question that shows I’ve been listening. Instead of offering a solution, I’ll help the other person think.
That’s the homework I’m giving myself, and perhaps this week you will want to practice with me.
Two minutes of focused listening while resisting the urge to interrupt with a solution or advice
. Good luck!