Listening. It’s a really big deal. We all need someone to talk to, whether it be someone a loved one, a coworker, or a person we pay to sit in a chair, keep quiet, and LISTEN.
And I think DRAMA comes into play when the Listener doesn’t really know her/his job description. Because listening is not always about fixing the Talker’s problem. It’s generally just about listening.
Being a Listener is a position of trust. It is, IMNSHO, an honour to be a confidante. I think we too often forget that. And it’s wicked important for any relationship, be it work-related, friendship, family, or lover.
So! How do we taken on the role of Listener and do right by the job, as well as the Talker?
* Ask what your buddy’s looking to get out of this conversation. Are you being asked for advice? Are you being a sounding board? Better to find out first rather than offer unwanted feedback and stumble into a big ol’ puddle of DRAMA. 🙂
* Focus on what’s being said…not on lunch, or your own stressors, or…anything except what’s being spoken. Make sure the Talker can tell you’re listening. (Eye contact is a great way to do this.)
* Not sure you grok? Repeat back what you think you heard. Studies show no two people see the same colour the same way…it shouldn’t be surprising that two people don’t always speak the same English! Don’t assume you know what the Talker is talking about. If you’re not sure? Ask, or repeat.
* Don’t interrupt. The spotlight is on the Talker, until/unless the Talker says otherwise.
* Don’t fall into the trap of responding in a way that sounds like you’re belittling what was said. “Oh, you’re upset because Penelope was found tied up on the train tracks again? That’s ok. My neighbor’s dog was tied to a tree by my car yesterday.” Trust me. The “that’s ok” response is NEVER helpful. It can come across as competition/one-upmanship as well as belittling, so let’s just avoid that particular drama-puddle.
* Know your boundaries. Sometimes the Talker really really needs to vent about something that you just can’t handle, or needs to talk past the time you’re able to listen. It’s healthy to let the Talker know you have to end the conversation, and why.
Now go ye and be awesome to each other!