Welcome to Insights and Implications!
Last month we wrote about the limitations of listening for agreement. Our newsletter inspired one of our readers to share his insights on listening. We love getting these contributions – please keep them coming. And if you have suggestions for newsletter topics, please send them along.
We also are pleased to pass along a link to a recent TEDx Talk presented by our own Ken Manning. We will write more about this in following newsletters but we wanted to get it out to all of you right away. Take a look.
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Listening Without Judgment
A reader wrote to us:
Listening without judgment…… it’s a wonderfully liberating thing to discover that I can just listen and be curious about what others are saying! It takes all the pressure off, and I can just bask in being curious. This state is so great because I get to see into the other person’s reality and at the same time get my own insights. The beautiful part about this is that I usually come out of the conversation with a different reality. Magic happens here!!
Two weeks ago I was working with a leader reviewing the progress of a very big project. This leader was asking questions and his questions were starting to irritate me. I had to keep reminding myself to “listen without judgment” to this idiot who didn’t appreciate what my team and I were doing. I must admit, it was a big struggle as it felt like I was being attacked and criticized. I had to work at staying balanced and listening.
That evening I spent an hour riding the lawn mower and playing back what the leader had said during our meeting, this time without the judgment. You know what happened? I realized that he was asking great questions and actually had some great points. My mindset shifted and I started to approach the work in a very different way the next day.
Later I was interacting with the same leader in a follow up meeting on the project, and at the end he commented, “You really listened to what I said and changed things accordingly. I am impressed.” Our connection is now stronger.
It is important to note that I did not conform to the leader’s reality. My mindset shifted and I saw a new reality! This one will stay with me until an even better reality arrives!
Wow! So many insights in this story. Initially, our reader had a reaction to his leader’s comments. We’ve all been there, even those of us who share an understanding of how the mind works for a living!
It really looks like we react to what people say. Our thinking shows up, we don’t notice it, and we forget that our thinking has anything to do with our reactions. Even so, our reader knew something was off. He said he had to “work at staying balanced and listening.”
I know this can sometimes feel like effort. But don’t underestimate the benefit of seeing what is really going on in the moment, even if it’s only out of the distant corner of your eye.
Once he was on his lawn mower and over his reaction, his mind was open to new possibilities. Without effort, something new occurred. In this case, he saw the value in the leader’s questions. Another time his views may not change but he may see a better way to express them when he engages with that leader.
You never know what might show up when you unleash your mind from reactions, judgments, and the already known.