Focus on What They Are Saying

July 29, 2020

I found learning to listen pretty damn hard. For years, I struggled to do it well. Either I wanted to jump in and say my own brilliant piece before the other person finished or I just wanted to say what was on my mind.

Focus on What They Are Saying

I found learning to listen pretty damn hard. For years, I struggled to do it well. I couldn’t get out of my own way because my ego’s voice was so loud. Either I wanted to jump in and say my own brilliant piece before the other person finished or I just wanted to say what was on my mind. After all, I needed to be sure everyone knew that I was the smartest person in the room.

I was crap at building on what the other person was saying. And when I did start to do that well, I was still crap at really understanding what they were really saying or meant. When it was all me, me, me it was impossible to pay attention to the other person.

This was not a winning strategy.

Eventually, I sorted this out with some coaching help. I had to get comfortable with myself (which was not easy). I had to shake off my insecurities (so many!). I needed to worry less about myself and my inner world and start caring about others (what a novel idea). Once I developed some self-confidence, I didn’t need to insert my constant barrage of me, me, me brilliance. I learned to focus my attention on the other person’s thoughts and feelings. I stopped worrying about my own image and poured my attention into understanding the other person.

Here’s what I do now. I listen to the words: “Let me run something by you.” Then I try to pick up on the feelings: They sound tentative, nervous, unsure. What about body language: Standing at a distance from me. Can I pick up on their motivation: They want to test a possible solution privately before bringing it up in the team.

When I put those things together, I really am able to listen more deeply and make a good connection with another person. Honestly, it turns out that other people are more fascinating than my own very loud inner voice!