I thought I was a good listener. So I was surprised the person I had listened to chose a completely different path afterwards than I expected.
I thought I understood what one said. To my surprise my conversation partner didn’t do what she had said she was going to do.
I thought I helped. So it was a surprise that my advise wasn’t used at all!
What stood in my way to be able to really listen was... me. I was the disturbing factor myself.
During the conversation I allowed my own agenda and experience to pop up.
I also allowed environmental disturbances interfere with my listening attention.
And I just didn’t know how it felt to really listen; to listen – beyond yourself.
3 tips to listen beyond yourself:
TIP #1: The only intention you take to the conversation is to understand. No matter what. True willingness to understand. No simultaneous verification with other stories, no other agenda. Just being there for people to understand what’s going on for them.
TIP #2: Wipe out everything you are, were and will be (doing) for a moment. Wipe out what you think, saw, experienced and know for the moment. You are listening beyond yourself when no judgment, defense, aggression, advise, action mode, ‘I don’t care attitude’ or pity shows up in you.
However, some feelings will show up, like confusion or the feeling you don’t get it completely. Feelings like these are OK. They signal you are truly listening beyond yourself! When these show up, that’s a moment to jump in and ask some questions until you do understand (again).
Be there, 100%. No judgment, own experience or other personal reactions in between. Just be there, listening beyond yourself and, where necessary, summarizing and questioning until you do understand.
TIP #3: To discover what it feels like to listen beyond yourself, start giving this gift to people you care for.
Once you know how it feels to listen beyond yourself, you will immediately recognize the difference between ‘listening’ and ‘listening beyond yourself’. While the person listened to, will (unconsciously) recognize the difference of you being IN the conversation a 100% for him or her.
By listening beyond yourself you don’t attract or take over any (other people’s) problems. Instead you are creating space for people to calmly see what’s exactly going on and to discover if there is anything he or she would like to take action upon.
And when you do listen beyond yourself more often, you will receive more and more appreciation from people like ‘thank you’s’, notices, gifts, valuable feedback in return and (listening) support for the things you do.
What could listening beyond yourself do for you professionally? You can immediately skip assuming; trying to figure things out - while you are not among the ones affected. Instead, you can start working on what people really look for on the subject. Resulting in clarity and less external advice, procedural letters and reports needed in the proces. And guess what; telephone or Skype are perfect for listening beyond yourself!
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