Because you are now concentrating on developing the listening skill we talked about last time, let’s start by talking about the “good listener’s perspective”. This is the perspective we take because we want to create a feeling of safety in the conversation. If people don’t feel safe, they won’t share thoughts that may contradict yours or those of people they feel may react badly because they don’t want to expose themselves to potential backlash – they want to avoid repercussions. So creating a safe conversation environment is your first objective. And remember – it is YOU they have to trust, and so YOU must alter YOUR perspective in order to authentically create the environment, It is NOT up to them.
When I say a “safe” environment, I mean one that reduces defensiveness to a minimum. Remember that the first thing you are doing is listening. That means you are paying attention to them and NOT thinking about other things, not even about the way YOU feel about the topic. YOU are simply trying to understand their perspective. You are NOT trying to change it, or come to agree with it. you only want to understand how they think and feel and their reasoning. Here are some tips:
Each individual I listen to has a slightly different quality and capability. I try to match their use of the language (vocabulary, grammar) as best I can. I would try not to show-off or confuse a counterpart with words they don’t know or a style of delivery that would likely make them feel inferior. It makes them feel defensive, and shuts down the communication. The reason I know this is because I have been shut down in this same way, and did it many times myself before I learned that the purpose of communication is to KEEP the good information flowing, not to stop it.
The next article will give information to help you determine if the flow of conversation with the other party is open and progressing productively or not.
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