It’s easy to talk louder. You have to raise your voice. Listening louder takes more effort. This article gives you three ways to listen louder and have more connecting, understanding, and joy in the conversations with others.
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A friend published his 12 daily practices for the new year. They are worth taking a look at. Especially if you need the inspiration to find resolutions, goals, or practices for yourself. Every practice has a purpose. It makes it clearer why a certain practice is important and why you should do it.
One practice caught my attention: “Imagine that everyone is enlightened but me.” The purpose of this practice resonated even more with me. It was to teach me to listen louder.
If you would sit at our dinner table at night, the discussions heat up nearly every time. To get attention, all start to speak louder. Perhaps you see this happening as well at your (online) meetings with colleagues or friends.
In an earlier blog, I gave you seven techniques to listen better. The current blog gives you three more ways to listen even louder. They will help you to have a better connection, understanding, and have more empathy with whom you’re listening to.
Enable mental filters
As you are listening to someone, you can become aware of both outer noise and inner noise. Like traffic, music, or other people chatting, outer noise is quite easy to filter out of a conversation you’re having.
Inner noise, on the other hand, is more difficult to filter out. Often, I catch myself interrupting others as they are talking to me.
If you would see me making a face (of disgust, a frown, or lifting my eyebrows), then my mental filter is off. Also, I want to share my experiences, advice, or tools that work for me out of enthusiasm. Then it’s even more important to switch on the mental filter.
By thinking about your own experiences or your advice, you’re either in the past or in the future. As you’re listening, remember that it’s not about you. It’s about the other. If you’re aware of this and switch on that mental filter, you’ll be in the here and now. Then you will be able to be present for the other genuinely.
Recently, I discovered a technique to paraphrase better: You summarize what the other person says in only two sentences. It forces you to think clearly and not add any ideas or thoughts you have on the context. There are two more advantages to paraphrase in just two sentences: First, it motivates you to focus on the actual issue and not on the details. Second, you can verify if you’ve clearly understood what you’ve heard.
Define your role
You might have different roles. These are not necessarily being a colleague, manager, friend, or family member. Before listening (louder) to someone else, you can ask the other what role would help the other at this moment. There are five roles: A listener, a coach, a consultant, to be present, or a hugger.
Sometimes, people want to “vent off” and talk about their experiences. They do not need you to share your experiences or your advice. Just listen to them, lean in, say “mmm-mm,” “yes,” and nod your head once in a while. They will appreciate it and feel much better afterward.
At other times, people need help to have clarity on some matter. This can happen when they do not understand a situation or when they are stuck in a thought. Mostly, people do not need to vent off. They want to move on and find out for themselves which steps to take. Then it’s helpful to ask questions to get details that clarify a situation. Find out who was involved and what happened.
A very powerful coaching technique is the “lifting method.” By Prof. dr. Fred Korthagen. Ask what they thought, what they felt, and what they wanted. Especially the last question helps the other get back to their intention, vision, or WHY. They reconnect with what causes them fulfillment, joy, and zest in life.
And sometimes, people want advice. They need help to decide, get out of a situation, or reach a goal. Then your role can be a consultant where you share your experiences to motivate the listener. You can share your tools & techniques (lifehacks) to reach goals, communicate better, or have more self-confidence.
Then there are times that people want you to be around. They don’t want to be alone as they are going through something. Your presence can comfort them or assure them. You don’t have to do anything other than being there for someone. You might do some work, make coffee or tea, or do some chore so that the other does not feel alone.
All of the roles that I mentioned above can be done by phone or videoconference as well. But sometimes, people need a (long) hug to connect, experience comfort, or reassure. Hugging is important. It makes me feel happy. In these times, this is not (always) possible. I do miss hugging people. Alternatives to hugging can be:
- looking at someone (at a safe distance) in the eye for a longer time and smile
- Making positive gestures like a heart with your hands, an air hug, or waving
- Hug family members or housemates
- Pet your cats, dogs, or any animal that lives in your house.
My favorite hug is a “heart to heart hug.” Normally you give a hug with your right arm up. Try to do it the other way: with your left arm up. Then your hearts will be on the same side.
It’s not always appropriate to ask what role is you should have in a conversation. I encourage you to think about it for a short time yourself and go to the inner. Ask yourself: “What role is needed at this moment?“. I am sure an answer (intuition) will come on how to serve best at that specific moment.
It takes effort to speak louder, but it takes more effort to listen louder. You have to work for it. It will help you to avoid misunderstanding, frustration, and loss in time. By listening louder, communication will be clearer and enjoyable for all parties.
Perhaps the most simple way to listen louder is to imagine that everyone is enlightened but yourself.
What do you do to listen louder? How does it help you? Let me know in the comment field below. The other readers of this article. and I are looking forward to reading from you!
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