LISTEN UP

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This is a phrase that always annoyed me when my mother would speak frankly to me, especially after I had crossed her.  To me it said “Listen and don’t talk back,” or “Shut your pie hole and listen up.”  Actually, as a parent, I’ve been guilty of using the same terminology.  How effective is this mode of communication?

First of all, that salutation to “Listen Here,” is always preceded by situations of conflict.  It announces in living color, that it is MY turn to talk (if we were in fact taking turns) or that what I have to say is more important than what you have to say.  Often this type of interaction is hierarchized by authority or reporting protocols, such as the thought “I am the President darn it”-or harsher terminology.  Those in command often feel they have a right to be heard louder that those who don’t.

In business and in life, this sequence of commanding to be heard is not effective, especially in the long term.  I have learned by experience, that there is a better way.  For example, if our message is not getting across, why not say “I hear your point, now may I add to that?”  Or in the case of a blistering parent talking to a child, what if the child said “I understand you are upset, may I clarify what I meant to express before this deteriorates further?”, or in the case of a business associate, what about “I can tell you are upset; I apologize for how you took that, it was not my intent to upset?”   Or in the case of a leader trying to straighten out a communication nightmare by subordinates, how about “There has obviously been communication going on that is not helpful; I would like to guide this to a safe harbor-will you all participate with me in a meaningful conversation without conflict or name calling?”

We ALL misspeak at times.  We ALL say words that we wish could be recalled.  We all wish we could rewind and repeat in a different way.  But that’s not how life is.  What we can control is our ability to listen more carefully, and strive to articulate in a way that doesn’t offer up a reason to take offense.

Keys to this process:

  1.  Recognize that the other parties you are talking with have a desire and a need to be heard.  In your mind, say to yourself “Shut up and listen.”
  2. Don’t cut off the person who is voicing their opinion, even if it is contrary to yours.  If you hear the full thought, you will have the benefit of responding with intelligence.  In your mind, say to yourself “Listen you idiot.”
  3. Always recognize what was just said to you is valid in the persons mind expressing it.  Don’t judge harshly just because you have a different thought.  In your mind, say to yourself “I can learn from this individual.”
  4. Be courteous, and usually be soft spoken in your communication; it’s hard to have conflict in disagreement when you are calm and collected.  In your mind, say to yourself “Be kind, don’t be a duffus.” 

Perhaps these tips well help all of us in our conversations.  Let’s make them all uplifting as we strive to build our trust with those we work with and serve.

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