Have you ever shared a frustrating situation with your boss, a colleague, a family member, or a friend and they kept jumping in and offering solutions (many of which you had already thought of yourself)? I certainly have, then realized I didn’t need or want them to resolve the situation for me. All I really wanted was for them to just listen.
As a coach, listening is one of the key tools I use with my clients. The longer I coach the more I notice what a gift just listening can be for someone—not only for my clients, but also for my family and friends.
Here are three things I keep in mind when I find myself wanting to talk instead of listen.
The listener does not have to add value. Often when someone is sharing a concern, we want to help so much that we jump in with ideas to solve the person’s problem. The truth is, most people are the best subject matter experts of their own lives. They may just need to verbalize their frustrations out loud.
Listening can help others solve their own problems. Your silence allows the other person to dig deeper. Often just listening to someone helps them to get to the root of the situation by venting versus just mentally churning at a superficial level.
The mere act of listening strengthens relationships. When you truly give someone the gift of your time—and your silence—it helps to build mutual trust and respect. Your listening can also help to increase the other person’s confidence and motivation, just by allowing them to feel heard. In the workplace, the positive implications of this simple act are endless.
Are there opportunities where you can practice listening more? Can you resist the urge to jump in with your brilliant ideas or solutions? If you can, you will be giving the exceedingly rare gift of silence. Surprisingly, giving that gift makes people think you’re a great conversationalist too!
Let me know how it goes. (I promise to just listen!)
About the Author
Joanne Maynard is a senior coach with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.