Active listening

How Openly Are You Listening?

Finding the Other Side of That Hard Conversation

Step 6: Listening With an Open Mind

In this final post we are talking about the most important element to any conversation: listening!  But before we do that let’s review how we got here.

In step one we talked about recognizing the other person is your partner, not your adversary.

In step two we examined the importance of taking your focus from the emotion to the facts.

In step three we set ourselves up for a powerful conversation by assuming good intent.

In step four we determined what behavior we wanted to see from the other person after the conversation.

And In step five we considered how we wanted the other person, and us, to feel on the other side of the conversation.

Active listeningNow let’s get on to listening…

“Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of witnesses.” ~ Margaret Millar

It’s only a conversation if you are actively listening while the other person says what they need to say. The other person may have information or a perspective that you are unaware of.

You may find the behavior that you wanted to see after this conversation is actually not appropriate to the situation after all. Be open to what they have to say and have the intention of collaborating on a plan of action.

Listening without judgment or trying to correct them.

For instance, when we discover our intentions have been misunderstood our knee-jerk reaction may be to jump in and explain ourselves. This may make the other person feel that we are not listening to them or are rejecting their point of view.

Instead, acknowledge their understanding of the situation and validate their position. There will be plenty of time to share your side of the situation.

Active listening involves asking questions

Really try to understand where the other person is coming from. Ask from a place of curiosity.

  • What are their thoughts on what you’ve shared with them?
  • How do they see the situation?
  • What changes would they suggest moving forward?
  • What do they need from you to support them in those changes?

Staying connected to your values and commitment as the conversation unfolds

The conversation is going to be a dance. We’ve done all the planning for the conversation but when the rubber is meets the road there are likely to be some things brought up that you didn’t expect.

While you’re listening to new information keep in mind your commitment to resolve the current situation in a way that honors the values of both parties. This will help prevent those moments when you feel flustered and unsure of how to proceed.

Making an agreement on what will be expected from both of you going forward

Handing out your expectation to others will not get you very far. A change in behavior requires the agreement and commitment from both of you.

Instead, restate your commitment to the other person and any changes in your behavior that you agreed to take on.

At the end of it all remember, it’s just a conversation. It’s an opportunity; a beginning of more to come. If you don’t feel you handled it well, you can own it and start again.

“I believe that success can be measured in the number of uncomfortable conversations you’re willing to have.” ~ Tim Ferriss

Now that you’ve got all the steps, what is the conversation you are planning to have and when will you have it? Share below so everyone knows they are not alone!