A seminary student carried out an experiment for a class assignment. He put an ad in the local paper that said, “Will listen without interrupting for one hour. $50.” He was hoping to get a few calls from people who would simply give their reactions to his unusual approach. But before the experiment was over, he made about $600.
So has anything I just shared in this chapter surprised you? I’m guessing not!
How would you rate yourself as a listener?
A ) Above Average
B ) Average
C ) Below Average
How would your spouse or best friend rate you as a listener?
A ) Above Average
B ) Average
C ) Below Average
A while back, I read that 90% of all American drivers rate themselves as Above Average Drivers. Of course, statistically, that is not possible. But we all have this perception that the road demons are everyone driving faster than us, and the road snails are everyone driving slower than us, because we, of course, are driving the perfect speed.
I am guessing that most of us hope that we are an Above Average Listener, while at the same time having this nagging doubt that we might actually be a Below Average Listener.
If we all already know how valuable listening is, why aren’t we better at it? What do you think? (I would sincerely love to hear your thoughts.)
And the really important question: How can we get better at listening? What do you think?
Focus on being interested NOT interesting!
Of course when most people hear “The 8 Second Rule” they instantly think of Bull Riding – where the bull rider has to stay on the bull for 8 seconds for his ride to be scored. For a bull rider the 8 seconds feels like an eternity. Truth is, when we ask a question, waiting 8 seconds for an answer can also seem like an eternity. As shared in Chapter 6: The average person waits only 2-3 seconds before rephrasing the question, answering the question themselves, or just moving on. Strange as it may sound, the average person has no idea that they do this!
The 8 Second Rule for listening is after you ask a question, count silently to yourself, “One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three……”, relax and wait patiently for them to answer. They will answer, and the longer you wait the better their answer will be. There have been times I have counted silently to 20, or even more, before they began to answer. The good news is that they will answer if you will simply give them time to respond.
Has this ever happened to you:
Friend: “Where did you go on vacation?”
You: “Walt Disney World.”
Friend: “We love going to Walt Disney World. Let me think – I think our last trip was our 5th. We love to stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Hotel. There, our kids just love seeing all the full-sized cars from the movie, “Cars”! They have Lightening McQueen! And Doc Hudson! And Mater! And Sally! And the kids love to go to all 4 parks. At the Magic Kingdom they love Space Mountain. But let me tell you about the lines. Oh – we did make use of the Fast Pass. ………and on they go telling you all about their multiple trips to Walt Disney World.
What did your friend do? Yes, he/she hijacked the conversation!
It does not matter if you have been to WDW a hundred times or if you have expertise on whatever your friend is sharing
– don’t hijack the conversation by sharing your experience, instead focus on listening and asking more questions about
Focus on asking follow-up questions:
• Please say more about that?
• What else would you add?
• What did you think about that?
• How did that make you feel?
• How did you figure that out?
• What did you learn from this?
• How will this benefit you going forward?
Simply repeat back, verbatim, what they have just shared. This really works! For example, your friend shares with you, “I am so angry! I have told my boss so many times that I can’t do my best work if she is going to micromanage me! But today again, no sooner had she assigned me a new project and she is back in my cubical, asking me what I am doing!”
You can respond by saying, “I am hearing that you are so angry. That you have told your boss so many times that you can’t
do your best work if she is going to micromanage you! But today again, no sooner had she assigned you a new project,
she was back in your cubical, asking you what you are doing.”
Your friend will not only feel heard – but she/he will feel understood by you!
Focus on giving whoever I am talking with the gift of being listened to! I can’t fully explain it, but when I remind myself that I am giving them the gift of listening, it helps me listen better.
My goal in most conversations is to listen 70% and to talk 30%. When I am coaching, that moves up to listening 90% of the time and talking just 10%! And then immediately after any conversation or coaching session, to ask myself, “How did I do? What % of the time did I listen? What % of the time did I talk?” Knowing that I am going to ask myself those questions when the conversation is over helps me stay focused on listening.
Here is an acrostic I keep by my computer:
It reminds me to focus on listening rather than talking! “Remember that people care more about themselves than they care about you. People want to talk about themselves.
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