Ever hear the same story over and over again? How do you show you are listening?
When talking with someone, it is not always clear when or what someone hears. This may lead to frustration on both ends. To feel a closer connection, you may go with these three tips:
- Acknowledge. While I may hear what someone says, I do not always acknowledge that I hear it. Sometimes, people simply want to know they have been heard. This means saying more than, “I hear you.” Reflective listening means repeating back some of the actual words you hear to show understanding (Not all of the words in a snarky tone like a mocking second-grader!). Reflecting back acknowledges that you get what the person says. It does not mean agreement. (If you remembering matters, reflecting back the actual words helps do that too).
- Clarify. The story usually tells us whether someone’s needs are met or unmet. Perhaps by sharing the story the person wishes to create connection or exhibit self-expression, or the underlying message conveys a request for help to meet a need. If the latter, after reflecting, you may ask “what do you think you need?,” or “do you think you need ________?” Also, if you do not appreciate what you hear, it helps to clarify whether you hear what the speaker means.
- Focus. It seems easier than ever to look at a phone or some other device while listening. The truth is that no one can fully focus on two things at the same time. Your attention may alternate back and forth. When some talks and the relationship matters to you, give the person your undivided attention, or ask if they could please give you __ minutes to wrap up what you are working on so that you may focus on what they are saying.
It helps to acknowledge, clarify, and focus to show you hear and understand. Learn proven, reliable ways to reduce frustration and ask for what you need in the on-line Connective Communication classes. You may sign up by clicking here.