My client decided to focus on listening to connect. Her intention was to practice this skill by being fully present with her family, friends, and work colleagues as often as she could. If someone at work came to her office door, she decided to look up from what she was doing and give that person her full attention. She planned to listen without judgment and by not thinking about her response while the person was still talking.
She outlined how she would practice listening to connect with her daughter. She would talk less and listen more. She would practice not giving her advice unless she asked for it. With her husband her intention was to listen without interrupting and ask open-ended questions.
She had plans to attend a professional conference. Instead of going with a critical, judgmental attitude, she decided to look for ways that she might connect with the speakers and the people around her. We talked about what she might learn or notice now that she had the intention of listening to connect.
She reported that the first few days it was challenging to remember to listen in this new way. She would forget until after she noticed tension in a conversation. So, she made a plan that first thing in the morning she would write down her intention and specifically who she wanted to connect with that day.
What happened was that she and her daughter had some sweet moments even while getting ready for school in the morning. When she gave her daughter her undivided attention, her daughter responded by eating her breakfast and more effortlessly getting ready for school. With her husband she focused on listening without giving advice (something that I am working on too!) and found that he opened up to her more than usual.
Facing a tense relationship with a co-worker, they were able to talk to each other in an honest and caring way. She asked questions for which she did not have answers and gained more perspective on her colleague's work and ideas. She believes that now they will be able to work together productively.
What happens when you listen to connect?
The technique is simple and effective, and it takes practice and conscious attention. When we truly listen to connect we feel more trust, openness to new ideas, and an ability to create with others.
To learn more about these ideas and others, I recommend the book,
Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results by Judith E. Glaser. I have completed the fourth month of a 7-month course with Dr. Glaser. Feel free to contact me to learn more about these ideas and how you may incorporate them in your life and work.