Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Employ Selective Agreement to be a better listener

As Stephen Covey said, "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply."

To truly listen we need, indeed, to focus on understanding the other person.  And suspending judgment.  In other words, be open to new possibilities or alternatives.  An excellent technique to employ is another form of what I call verbal aikido. I introduced you to Limited Response in previous post.
Let's explore a second form of verbal aikidoSelective Agreement.  This technique asks you to lookor listenfor something you can agree with in what the person is saying.
Instead of: "Are you kidding?!"
How about: "Interesting idea. How would you see it being put into action?"
Instead of: "Never heard of anything like that."
How about: "I hadn't thought of that. Would you give me an example so I can understand more clearly?"
Instead of: "Well, of course."
How about: "I agree.  And, I've also noticed that..."
Your fall-back phrase is, “You may be right, _______.”

Problem is, that phrase is often followed by a big 'But!' which erases everything that was said before the 'but.' Change that three-letter word to another three-letter word, 'And!'  You'll notice I've only used the 'and' in the last example.  It's implied or understood in the first two.  Some participants in my trainings have said, "It wouldn't be grammatically correct to use 'and' in the first two examples."  I agree, and ask that you simply think 'and.' Doing this will help you avoid saying, "Bu-u-u-u-ut!" You'll be a better listener and the other person will be more likely to hear you.