Listening to Learn

I recently shared my mission as I begin my self-employment journey. While I have a vague plan, this is completely new territory for me. I don’t mind admitting that I’m scared. To give myself confidence, I tell myself (and anyone who will listen) all the elements I already have in place – the skills and knowledge driving this decision, the idea I want to pursue, the possible solutions…

My clever mother-in-law shared some wisdom when I told her of my plans. “Hannah, people will willingly share their advice,” she said, “if you give them the opportunity. This is their turn to talk and your turn to listen”.

While I didn’t see it, I had been isolating myself from the help of others by making it sound like I had it all sorted. The truth is, I’m trying to compensate for my inexperience; to prove I’m ready to sit at the adult table. I’m seeking permission.

I’m grateful Kerrie shared this advice. This is a lesson I can never hear enough and I haven’t come close to getting it right yet.

People are generous with their knowledge and advice if they are allowed the space to share it. When we ask questions or simply state, “that’s interesting, tell me more”, we give permission for the other person to share. This, in turn, builds trust which means they start to share pure gold.

When we listen, we open ourselves up to receiving from other people and other people have what we want: ideas, connections, money, advice…

Listening is a transaction of energy. That’s one of the hard things about it. I have to resist my own ego and agenda then fully concentrate on what the other person is saying with intention but without expectation. I start to worry. What if I get bored? What if I don’t learn anything? That’s when I need to remember – listening is not about me.

By listening, we can create an environment where connection can happen but it’s not a guarantee. If we give the other person space and permission to share their story, it is likely we will learn something from them. At the end of the conversation, you may find yourself inviting them to continue at another time or asking if you can check back in; utterly fascinated by what you’ve learned. If you don’t listen, you may miss the opportunity and have no right to ask.

Logically, I understand this. But I still find it difficult. How can I make listening easier?

  • Ask open questions – these ignite the conversation until it burns on its own.
  • Look for elements of interest – assume you can learn something from everyone and then, like a detective, look for clues that lead you to the lesson.
  • Understand that this takes energy. Allow time and space afterwards to take some notes and recharge. Then you can spend the energy with confidence.

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Published by hanfitz.creates

I'm Hannah, a business coach for creative professionals. The world needs creativity and innovation: this is how we progress as humans. But, the creative journey is paved with challenges: we're told the story of the starving artist since we're children, our brain is hard wired to resist anything new (like creative ideas), we doubt our ability and worthiness to succeed and we crush our ingenuity with judgement and comparison. Yet, we know our purpose is to create. I help visual artists, designers and illustrators bridge this gap with my uniquely curated knowledge and experience of graphic design, finance, human behaviour and neuroscience. You have invested time and resources into their technical skill; now, it's time to invest in your mindset and strategy. After working with me, you can confidently communicate the value of your work, attract clients and charge what you're worth through multiple income streams. This frees up more time and energy to do what you're best at: create.

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