I love an exercise that we do on the RDS course about listening to each other which we did this week. We got 30 people to do “reflective listening”: just listen, reflect back to the speaker some of the words and thoughts that they say and then ask “what is the most important thing for you?” and “is there anything you would like to do about this?”
What constantly surprises me is the power of being listened to. We asked people after the exercise what it felt like being listened to and these are some of their responses:
I felt valued I felt that I was interesting
I felt understood I felt respected
I felt important I came to a conclusion on an issue
It felt refreshing I felt affirmed
All these reactions, just from being listened to and asking a couple of questions? It is amazing how powerful just being listened to is.
I think that the reason for this is that at the heart of listening is valuing the other person. We have to put down our own agenda for a moment and take theirs as more important. Sadly I don’t do this enough (I prefer the route of interrupting or giving my own advice).
You can’t do reflective listening to every conversation, however I will try again with the important ones today to listen to people properly and empower them in their own thoughts. At least I know that it will make a difference.
If you need someone to listen to you, make sure you tell a good friend “please just listen, you don’t have to come up with any answers today”.