Listening . . .

Over the course of three hours last night, I watched as two Facebook groups deteriorated into online shouting matches – one related to the pandemic and the other related to racism. It mirrors what we’ve been watching in the news the last several months. Everyone had an opinion, but no one was listening – unless there was blaming, shaming, and name-calling involved. What makes listening so difficult to do?

We talk all the time, but we forget communicating is a complicated, on-going, repetitive, two-way process. To do it well, the skills of listening well and speaking clearly with kindness must be practiced. Here’s what I’ve learned. 

  • To listen well, I
    • Suspend my focus on my experience and message to hear, recognize, and understand the experiences and messages of others
    • Build a common vocabulary with shared meanings for the same words, symbols, and actions. I do not have to agree with the meanings, but I must understand them.  
    • Build trust with respect and kindness
    • Find common shared experiences, even if the perception of them differs
    • Regularly ask for clarification when I don’t understand
    • Regularly check for understanding to ensure I’m on the right path
    • Wait politely while emotions are high or logic and respect are low 
    • (when all I have are words) Read as if the writer is open for discussion

What do you think? What needs to be added? What needs to be changed?

What makes this difficult to do?

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