When was the last time you really listened to someone – not with the purpose of responding, but with the intent to hear and understand what is being said?
When someone makes a statement, we often rush in to either support the statement, judge it or want to give an opposing view. What would be revealed by simply giving full attention to what is being said? Allowing space for the speaker to clarify his/her thoughts and perhaps give insight into what informs the beliefs behind the words.
Nancy Kline, in her book “Time to Think”, asserts that people do their best thinking when they have someone giving their full attention to what is being said. People often have the answers to their challenges and by being given the opportunity to talk them through, they are able to arrive at their own solutions.
Here is something to try. The next time a relative or friend presents a challenge they are facing, try just listening without judgement and without comment. When they come to a long pause, just carry on listening as thinking is still taking place. Nancy Kline suggests that the only question you should ask is – “Is there anything else you would like to say or think about?” This is difficult but avoid giving advice!
The benefit is not only to the person doing the thinking, but also to the listener. Suddenly, the person listening starts to understand the motivation behind the speaker’s thoughts. Judgement is withheld and often new perspectives formed.
This post was written by Merridy Edgson