Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The other side of speaking.... Listening!

Scott Ginsberg (the nametag guy & approachability expert) had an interesting post about "Listening" that could be valuable for Toastmasters.

Have you ever considered how the other person in the conversation feels when you are talking? What are you thinking when they are talking?

Scott's article provides 8 practices to help you avoid "Conversational Narcissm" or being more into yourself instead of really listening to, and relating to, the other person. Below are an abridged version of his 8 practices ...

1. Watch your intent. First, beware of listening for selfish reasons.

2. Switch the spotlight. Give THEM the glory. REMEMBER: Listening isn’t about you. And your words need to reinforce that principle.

3. Silently check yourself. In the back of your mind (while still
listening, of course), find a way to keep yourself accountable.

4. Don’t add too much value. Trust in your ability to add value AFTER (not during) the listening process. Resist the temptation to hijack the conversation by matching or one-upping people’s points, or by trying to solve the problem too quickly.

5. Open the space. Part of your role as the listener is to make room (both physically and emotionally) in the conversation. Your best practice for this principle is the strategic use of silence. This lets the other person fill in the empty spaces AND enables him to set the pace of the conversation. ... And
“silence is golden” because it helps the other person articulate their most precious emotions. So, your goal is to become more comfortable with silence.

6. Be mindful of ownership. Don’t take over people’s problems. That’s not your job.

7. Listening is NOT a performance. Listening is about temporarily suspending your need for self-expression. So, don’t use what people say as triggers for your own jokes. Listening takes, among many things, self-control. One of my favorite rules is: Acknowledge, then shut up! SO REMEMBER: Take in;
don’t take over.

8. Recognize and return. Notwithstanding the first seven suggestions on this list, it’s still nearly impossible to avoid ALL traces of conversational narcissism. So, the secret is to recognize when you feel yourself being pulled
into narcissistic territory. That way you can correct it, then pass the conversation back to the other person.

.... Start growing bigger ears today!
Scott's full article has a number of great examples for each of the 8 steps and it can give Toastmasters another perspective... the perspective of the "audience" when you are having a conversation !

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