Thankfully, Mt. Pleasant, SC remains pleasant despite a week of dire warnings about Hurricane Florence.
At first, Mixonian paid careful attention and mentally made prudent plans for all “what if” scenarios. We battened down the hatches, packed up the dogs and evacuated to higher ground in Georgia. But once we had recovered from the traffic jams with all the other evacuees, the stress of yes/no/maybe and Thursday/Friday/Saturday began to take its toll. We couldn’t relax. We couldn’t focus. We couldn’t get anything done. Stress chained us into mental prison cells of our own making.
So, after careful discussion, we made plans to return home ahead of the rush. (Of course, we also made alternate plans in case we were wrong.) But we returned in victory over stress.
Stress is our culture’s Black Plague. It’s just as deadly to relationships and to progress as the Black Plague of the mid 1300’s was in Europe. Too much stress blocks communication and action. (Too little stress makes us lazy bums.When faced with uncertainty, your job, as the leader of the pack, is to channel the stress productively for and with the people on your team. Click To Tweet
The most important thing you can do is called active listening. When people believe they are heard, they feel better and that’s good for everyone. It’s not easy to do, which is why few people even try.
Active listening is making a conscious effort to fully understand what someone is saying. Active listening requires concentration, remembering what is said, and thinking through the implications it presents.
Blargh! I know. Listening is terribly difficult; it’s a matter of herding those cats in your own overly-busy and distractable mind. It forces you to rethink your own assumptions, as well as theirs.
NEWS FLASH! People who are considered good listeners are also deemed trustworthy (and persuasive!)
I’ve always considered myself a superior good listener. And yet when I summon the courage to take a real look at my failures learning experiences, I can see that I’ve messed up in relationships, classrooms, and even lost business because I assumed I knew what someone was trying to tell me, but I didn’t really get what was underneath the words being said!
In some cases I “knew” that what someone was saying wasn’t relevant to me and simply pretended to listen.
definitely probably may overestimate your own listening skills. At work, suboptimal listening has a negative multiplier effect and causes misunderstanding s, confusion s, productivity loss, low morale, lack of engagement, etc.
“Active” means you’re putting your focus on the other person. “Mindful” doesn’t mean “full of your mind” but rather paying attention in a particular way. Mindful listening involves trying to understand the true content of what someone is telling you without trying to categorize, criticize, answer back or shut down. Mindful listening becomes empathetic listening when you are also attuned to the emotion behind what is being said.
In any case, you don’t have to agree; you simply need to understand.
What NOT to do when you’re supposed to be listening (Remember fake listening can be spotted a mile away):
- wait for the other person to (finally) finish talking
- decide whether or not what is being said is relevant to you
- prepare your rebuttal
- assume you know where this is going
- internally change the channel as you’ve heard this before
Advanced communication tip: In mindful conversations, you not only listen to the other person, you also listen to your own response to what you’re hearing. This heightened emotional awareness allows you to perceive the communication at a higher resolution.
Listening is hard; it only takes a small part of your mental capacity to hear something so attentive listening is not the default mode, it takes training, or at least serious practice.
Listening requires you to slow down.Click To Tweet
What’s the first step in the Journey of the Mindful Listener?
The first step is to set the intention to listen better. When someone is talking to you, you can pretend it’s your master teacher, sharing his/her last words. That’s real listening.
Remember what Yoda says, “Do, or do not. There is no try.” Over the next few weeks, try to listen more actively and mindfully to the folks on your team.