The Wisdom In Listening

Posted by
Kristen Talbert
Indigenous Leadership Academy Program Coordinator

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Have you ever spoken with someone and felt they weren’t listening to you? No matter what you said, they just wanted to respond as quickly as possible without trying to understand your viewpoint. Poor listening skills can be frustrating. That is why listening is an important tool in the leadership toolkit. It’s not always easy but once you understand how to listen, communicating will become much easier. 

Recently I had an intense conversation with someone and there were professional dynamics to consider. I brought up an issue and at first they were defensive; I repeated myself firmly, kindly, and respectfully and their defenses came down. We had a real conversation where the other person truly understood what I was saying and listened to me. They expressed they, too, felt listened to by me and the issue was resolved mutually. Had we not taken the time to listen to one another the situation could have ended poorly for both of us.

Here are three main points of listening I took away from that conversation. 1. When listening to the other person, don’t try to solve the issue immediately. It’s not an easy thing to do, we are so ingrained by an immediate need to solve a problem but I learned it’s more meaningful to listen first without trying to be solution based. 2. Listening gives you time to consider other viewpoints. What you are doing is taking in their perspective and processing it. Don’t try to respond for respondings sake, really consider what the other person is saying. 3. Do not have a defensive reaction. Be considerate and thoughtful with your reaction. It takes courage to bring up an issue, so keep that in mind when you are considering how to respond. The conversation could have easily shut down quickly if we had both remained defensive. We pushed through that initial reaction and were able to understand where one another was coming from.

Henana, pidamaya ye (that is all, thank you). Kristen 

Helpful Resource: https://hbr.org/1957/09/listening-to-people

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