Hear Ye, Hear Ye
Are you listening to reply, or listening to understand?
By Isobel Farrell, CLAC Regional Director
From an early age, we are encouraged to talk. Our parents often record our first words and cheer us on with each new word we say.
During our school years, we usually have to do presentations and speeches. We may even join public speaking or debate teams to hone our speaking skills.
However, rarely are we taught how to be an effective listener.
At CLAC’s recent Ontario stewards conference, I attended an educational session focussed on tackling tough conversations. One of the key principles that I took away was the idea that listening is not waiting to talk.
We often fall into the trap of “politely” waiting for the other person to finish before putting our case forward. When we do this, we are not listening to understand, but rather listening to reply.
We should not fall into the trap of rehearsing what we’re going to say while trying to listen at the same time. We should think only about what the other person is saying.
Sometimes, silence may follow as we absorb all that the person is telling us. We need to recognize the power of that silence and embrace it, rather than try to fill it.
The conference session challenged me to be mindful of my intentions and habits when listening to someone else. Am I really hearing what the person is saying? Or am I already formulating my quick comeback?
Tough conversations aren’t solved by ignoring what the other side is saying and simply talking over them. They’re solved when we take time to quietly listen and understand each other.