LISTENING WITH CURIOSITY
Posted on November 19, 2011 by Elsbeth Tate, One of Thousands of Business Coaches on Noomii.
How to improve all your relationships, both personally and professionally with the gift of listening!
The following is a presentation I gave at the Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Awards Dinner:
I am curious, how many of you have some difficulty listening or focusing on what another person is saying? Great, that means you will have no difficulty in listening to me for the next 15 minutes. My topic is “Listening with curiosity” and I am happy to be here to share my insights and experience on that topic.
I plan to discuss 4 areas –
Listening from “conditioned” or “default” mode.
Listening from curiosity.
The benefits of curiosity.
Tips on staying in curiosity mode.
1. CONDITIONED OR DEFAULT MODE
What is conditioned or default mode? It is that place where most of us habitually operate from. What I mean is that when we listen to others, we hear the words, but the focus is on what it means to us. For example, we have opinions about what the other is saying based on our own perceptions of life and our own experiences and knowledge, we have assumptions, opinions about the other person and what they are saying, we’re forming what we are going to say next, there could be judgment any many other factors. The actual truth is we are not really listening to them but to our own inner chatter.
Check in with yourself right now and notice what you are thinking, what opinion you might be having, any judgments, are you really here or are you already thinking about tomorrow?
Have you ever noticed people in a discussion and it actually sounds like they are having two different conversations? I have heard it often, in meetings, in relationships and I include myself in this.
We tend to want to give our own opinion, liken what they are saying to an experience of our own, we also tend to interrupt because we assume we know what the other person was going to say. We aren’t listening!!!
Just a little while ago, I was talking to my husband, and it was like “the lights are on but no one’s home. He interrupted what I was saying to say something else and I said to my hubby, Hun, you haven’t heard a word I’m saying. He responded with Of course I heard you and he repeated back to me almost verbatim what I had said, and said that he interrupted because he knew what I was going to say next. I knew he wasn’t engaged and what I had said hadn’t really registered. We tune out….Anyone familiar with that?
What do you suppose the impact of that was? How often have we done it to others or someone has done it to us.
Remember back when you were a child, or even to your own children and that sense of curiosity, everything is new and there’s a sense of discovery.
When we listen from a place of curiosity, it’s about really listening to what another person is saying, not to our inner chatter, not having to have the answers, asking questions with curiosity. There is a playfulness about it and it can actually be fun.
What we know about another person whether it be in a professional capacity or in a personal relationship, is really only the tip of the iceberg.
Being curious is asking questions that will have people explore and it is far more empowering to that person. It shows respect.
The greatest gift you can give to someone is the gift of listening.
What are the benefits of listening with curiosity?
It creates an openess for more dialogue and possibilities.
It creates a safe environment to be honest by removing judgment.
It is empowering as it respects the thoughts, ideas, feelings and opinions of others and who doesn’t want to be respected?
People feel seen and heard for who they really are.
TIPS ON STAYING IN CURIOSITY MODE.
BE AWARE – Notice where your thoughts are, are they on yourself or are you over there and then get over there – this is called self-management.
ASSUME NOTHING! We’ve all heard the expression about walking a mile in another’s shoes or seeing from the other’s point of view. The point is, that is another assumption. The assumption that we actually know what another person is thinking or feeling. It’s what WE would feel in that circumstance.
Use the words, I am curious about that or “I wonder”
Ask questions from curiousity. Types of questions that open discussion are questions that start with a WHAT. Questions that start with a why, as in why would you want to do that, puts one on the defense. Notice the difference when I say, I’m curious about what doing that would give you?
Acknowledging a person for who they are versus what they did. Example, you did a really good job versus, I want to acknowlege you for your commitment and dedication that made this such a success. Or, for your children. You are a very good boy Johnny for telling the truth versus, Johnny that took a lot of courage to speak the truth even though it was difficult.
Listening from default mode is listening to self and tends to shut people down.
Listening from curiosity opens up dialogue and possibility and people feel respected, heard and seen.