Earlier I wrote about listening to learn. But what if we have a message that can solve problems for others? Then it’s their time to listen and our duty to share it, right?
Imagine there’s a pot on the stove with the lid on. The chicken stock, onion and pumpkin are boiling away. You need to add some cumin powder and give it a stir for a really yummy soup. To avoid getting burned, you take the lid off and let the steam dissipate first, then you add your cumin and give it a stir.
Communication should operate with the same principles. For people to be receptive to your message, you need to take the lid off and let the steam dissipate: listen to them and make them feel heard first.
If our message really is important, then it should be important to us that it is being heard and genuinely having a positive impact. We need to create an environment of trust where our message can be received.
This has to come from a place of authentic listening or it doesn’t work. It’s not a strategic play to pick your moment to share. You’re not waiting for your turn to talk. You’re creating the environment where your message might be received by building trust and engaging with them.
If you get a chance to share your message later, they will be more open and receptive to it. If you don’t, they might not have been receptive to it anyway but they will think much better of you regardless.
This is not an easy thing to do. We’re all bubbling pots of energy and steam. But if you can recognise this, turn down your heat to a slow simmer and listen first, you may be amazed at the results.
I have a friend who always listens first. Every time I visit, I resolve to beat her to it. She’s much more practiced at this than me though. She naturally asks the questions, listens and redirects the conversation back to me like a pro. I’m sure you have a friend like this. Try the game: if you can’t listen at first, see how long at a time you can keep the focus on them. It’s hard, but notice how much you enjoy their company. Try to notice the tricks they use to get the spotlight back on you. Then resolve to try those with someone else.
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