Are you in listen-only mode?

Jan 12, 2016 | Workplace Communication

How to connect with others by being listened to

Recently I’ve had a couple of coaching clients say to me, “I feel really vulnerable doing all the talking for so long.” We’re 30 minutes into an hour-long session and it is truly a space where it is all about them…in the best sense.

In a world where there is a lot of talking at, not talking with, what a perplexing paradox. The examples are endless, right?

  • Political pundits, debates, etc. etc. etc.
  • Older folks preaching at younger folks
  • Young whipper snappers preaching at old geezers
  • Social media
  • Workplace “trainings”
  • Social service staff telling clients what to do
  • Managers with employees and vice versa
  • Volunteer managers with volunteers

True listening and talking about heartfelt feelings requires that our hearts be open — and nothing else. It is rather a vulnerable position for both the talker and the listener. As I reflected more on their thoughts, I realized that I, too, was sometimes uncomfortable being truly listened to for a long amount of time.

Something changes when we connect.Man praying

This is what the world needs, however: individuals who connect over meaningful matters in a meaningful way. Listening is a key ingredient.

Here are some tips to ensure that listening is happening:

  • The listener has more statements that end in question marks than periods.
  • There are silences in between statements. No one is rushing to fill them.
  • The space between you has some reverence and time seems to slow down.
  • Tissues may be needed.
  • Cell phones/digital devices are not involved, unless there is actual talking happening.
  • Words are spoken slowly and chosen with care.
  • Advice is not given.
  • All individuals share and listen with reciprocity.
  • You walk away feeling refreshed — not burdened.

This is a place I need to grow too. What are you tips for inviting someone to listen to you when it is needed?