“Listening doesn’t count unless I feel heard.”
You can attribute that quote to yours truly. While I definitely think it’s weird when people quote themselves, that mantra is one that tends to hit hard and get a lot of “Amens!” when I share it.
We’re talking about when YOU are talking and, say…
* your husband is scrolling: DOESN’T COUNT.
* your boss is head nodding while glancing up from behind the computer screen: DOESN’T COUNT.
* your friend rushes in to gush about their promotion after you share yours with zero acknowledgment: DOESN’T COUNT.
They can repeat back, nod their heads, and say all of the things–but unless we FEEL like you’re listening, it just doesn’t count when it comes to connection.
During our latest Deflate, Relate, Elevate Workshop, the group came together after a breakout to debrief. In the breakout rooms, the participants practiced listening with curiosity. Specifically, they were encouraged to acknowledge, out loud, how their breakout-room partner felt after they described a situation they were dealing with that was keeping them up at night.
When I asked for reflections on the exercise, Josie was quick to raise her virtual hand. As she described how her partner, Kristine, had listened to her, you could see smiles spread across the Zoom room. I found myself releasing my breath I didn’t even realize I was holding. I felt my shoulders drop about 3 inches.
As Josie finished, I asked the other participants if they could feel it, too–whatever had just happened to me listening to Josie’s debrief. Head nods all around–I didn’t even need to put words to it!
There was a palpable (yes, even in the Zoom room) sense of ease. The peace Josie had in her voice, the relief of someone really understanding and acknowledging how she felt in her situation. The energy of the whole group shifted from listening to Josie’s account.
There was no doubt: Kristine had DEFINITELY made her listening count. Josie felt heard.
There are countless pro-tips on how to listen, levels of listening, and techniques to listen. What if, this week, you went about your conversations being led by the question:
Am I making this person feel heard?