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Fundamental #12 – Listen generously

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Listening is more than simply “not speaking.” It’s giving your undivided attention to the needs and priorities of others. Set aside your own judgments and pre-conceived notions. Listen with care and with empathy. Most importantly, listen to understand.

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” ― Ralph G. Nichols

“Effective listeners remember that “words have no meaning – people have meaning.” The assignment of meaning to a term is an internal process; meaning comes from inside us. And although our experiences, knowledge and attitudes differ, we often misinterpret each other’s messages while under the illusion that a common understanding has been achieved.”— Larry Barker

“To say that a person feels listened to means a lot more than just their ideas get heard. It’s a sign of respect. It makes people feel valued.”— Deborah Tannen

Tips for Listening Generously:

• Give your full attention to the person. Make eye contact, so that the person knows that they have your undivided attention.

• Be open minded. It is easy to let your mind wander if you think you know what the person is going to say next.

• Don’t multi-task when someone is speaking. You will wind up listening to only part of what someone says. Do not pretend to listen while you are thinking about something else.

• Do not interrupt the person speaking. Everyone wants the chance to say everything they would like to say without being interrupted and when you interrupt it makes it seem like you aren’t listening.

Most people think they are good listeners; however most of us are actually really poor listeners. People can tell when someone is not really listening to them, they see them multi-tasking, or are getting interrupted frequently…but what is even worse is that feeling that person probably feels because they know that you are not listening. When a person feels that you are not really listening to them, they shut down. They feel like you do not respect them, their opinions, and thoughts and as a result their brainstorming stops. Do not interrupt someone and don’t try to finish their sentence. Allow the person to explain their thoughts, or how they plan to handle the situation. If you allow them to talk many people will come up with a solution and become more confident in their decision making going forward.

– Whitney Fuller