I’ve always felt I was good at listening. People often told me so too. I’ve had friends, colleagues, and acquaintances seek me out, so I can listen to them, so they can help resolve some issue they have. However, since I did some focused training around Listening skills, I realise that I was listening, but not really well.
How do you listen?
When your child says to you, “Mummy, can I tell you something?”, do you always listen really hard to what they have to say? Or do you sort of listen whilst you carry on preparing tea/sorting clothes/driving the car/another task you need your brain for? When they’re just ‘telling’ us something, they’re not asking for a response are they. They simply want to share their story.
When a friend asks to meet up, do we think, “Great! I get to have lovely coffee & cake with friend today”? Do we really focus on what they say, and watch their body language, which is all part of listening?
I used to listen with half a mind, whilst processing other things, or carrying out other tasks. I was obviously quite good at this, but I’ve learnt to become better.
Listening to others helps listen to yourself
I’ve successfully completed a Listening course, and tutor training programme, with Acorn, having been asked to get involved to support a Listening Service in Preston. I was amazed that by following a simple method of Active Reflective Listening, I was able to help others to find their own way forward. I didn’t say a word. Simply reflected back what they’d said, in their own words. That was it!
This technique, whilst not new, was certainly new to me, has helped me to listen to my own thoughts in the same way. I was helped through the courses, when we practiced, when I brought situations to ‘talk through’. However, my greatest learning was in using this process by myself, in reflecting on my thoughts, and finding new ways of looking at things. Simply by spending time reflecting, and listening to myself, I’m now a better listener to others.
Can you listen better?
Since the courses, even though my family make fun of me, I deal with listening at home in a different way. If one of the boys asks for some time, and it’s not convenient, I tell them that. I’ll say, “let me finish this, then I can listen to you”. When my husband wants to talk, and share his day, or a conversation with me, I’ll stop other things so I can just listen. I can give my undivided attention to what he’s saying. I usually don’t need to respond. He’s simply getting things off his chest by sharing.
Being a good listener, I believe, is about the time you give to someone, without judgement or advice. It’s allowing the other person to share what they want, and need, to tell you, so they can listen to themselves and work out their next steps. Freeing yourself up to listen, just like we do when a child first starts to read, and we need to ‘listen’ to them at home, is a gift to those who seek you out. They may not think to thank you for your time, but they will have been helped in whatever it is they wanted to share.
When have you listened really well to someone else? What did you learn from the listening experience? Let me know below.
If you’d like some mentoring support, to help you move something forward, get in touch, and let’s book a date in the diary.