Early in your career, your idea of being a good communicator might have been making cogent arguments and clearly expressing yourself verbally and in writing. This would prove your capability.
But those things, while very important, are not the keys to becoming really great at communication.
With experience and more confidence in yourself, you gradually discover that communication is less about how you express yourself and more about how deeply you listen to others. Listening allows you to focus on what is important to others. In turn, you can then tailor your communication to them to find common ground or to respond appropriately.
Listening requires that you move beyond merely hearing the words expressed by others. Instead it requires that you tune into communication aspects other than words. Like the insight tied to your “3rd Eye”, it’s as if your physical ears are tuned to the words used and your “3rd ear” is tuned to a deeper level.
Use your “3rd ear” to listen for one or all of the following to deepen your listening:
Commitments, Aspirations, Point Of View, Interests
What is important to this person that they would put whatever it took into accomplishing, preserving, exemplifying, etc.? What’s their vantage point?
Emotions, Fear or Disappointments
Based on tone of voice, word choice, and facial expressions, what is the overriding feeling this person is experiencing and what does that tell you? What might they regret or want to avoid?
Values or Priorities
For which principle(s) are they taking a stand? What’s important to them?
Are they using similes, metaphors, or other comparisons? How can these analogies apply to the way forward?
The Crux of the Matter
What is at the heart of their message that they might not have put into words?
How did you or someone else impact them? Did it help or hinder them in their pursuit?
How to Help or Serve
Underneath it all, are they asking for or do they want/need something from you?
Simply Hold Space
Sometimes, others just need a witness as they wrestle with a conundrum or to clarify their own thinking. You don’t really need to DO anything. Your presence alone is enough.
Next time, you’re listening to someone, practice zeroing in on one of these areas. What do you hear? How does it add to their words and your understanding?
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this information with it: Beth Strathman works with leaders who want to confidently become the leaders they are meant to be while maximizing the “people side” of business. Learn more at: bethstrathman.com.