I was fortunate enough to have a little bit of a break over the Christmas and New Year period.  It is not lost on me how blessed I was to have had the opportunity to spend quality time with friends and family and have some really great conversations with them. After nearly 7 years away from my home town, being able to sit with the people you love the most and dig into their world, is something I had deeply missed.

I am a BIG fan of human connection. Real connection. Deep connection and honest, genuine, inclusive conversation. But upon reflection, something also started niggling away at me and once I noticed it, I could see it everywhere I turned.

So many of us talk to be listened to,  but we don’t listen to truly understand in return.

We listen to then reiterate the world through our own lens instead of participating in true dialogue.

Real dialogue being a conversation which is based on the organic flow of conversation backwards and forwards adding more and more meaning to a specific topic.

Instead, so often what I hear is someone speaking, sharing a story, an opinion, or a worldview that is important to them based on the lens of which they view the world, and no doubt their own unique priorities that they have in that moment.  But, they aren’t actually listening to what is coming back at them in return.

To hear and to listen are two very different things.

And for so many of us we have a deep yearning just to feel heard. To feel understood. To feel appreciated. To feel seen.

Yet, how many of us can truly say that we do it consistently in return? That we listen to what is going on for other people with an open mind and an open heart. Without judgement. Without an agenda.

How often are we purely just listening to try to understand?

I see this scenario play out often in Organisations where people generally have competing priorities, agendas, timeframes etc. But, I see it play out in day to day life a lot too. Casual conversations between friends.  Family dinners. Coffee catch ups.

I heard a really great quote this morning whilst listening to a Brene Brown podcast with Tim Ferris and Dax Shepard, where Tim Ferris mentioned a quote he often lives by is “Don’t believe everything you think”.

I thought this was incredibly impactful and relevant. We often forget that the thoughts we have and the opinions we hold, are just that. JUST OURS. Our thoughts. Our opinions. Our feelings.  It doesn’t mean they are always right.  It also doesn’t mean that others thoughts, opinions, and  feelings are right too.

Yet, more often than not, we see greater value in trying to convince others to see the world through our narrow lens, than the value that we place on widening our own lens to see more than just our own view. Our own agenda. Our own needs. 

So, here is the challenge I am encouraging your participation in… To more consciously take a step back and listen more.  Truly listen. Truly seek to understand what is going on for someone else, instead of just looking at it through the filter that I see the world through. Or worse yet, being so consumed in my own story, that I don’t even try to understand another’s.

I believe that if we all just talked a little less, and listened a little more, that the world could be a far more considerate, compassionate and kind place to be.

Doesn’t that feel like a world you’d want to be a part of in 2021? I know I would.

If you are sitting there thinking that you are already a great listener for your friends, family or colleagues,  I challenge you next time you are having a conversation with someone to see if you are doing any of the following things:

  • When someone is speaking you might be nodding along, but you are thinking about your own response back to them, or an opinion you want to share in return? If you are, you aren’t truly listening to the words that are coming out of their mouth from a place of wanting to understand.
  • You engage in a conversation with someone and then pick up your phone. The second you multitask during dialogue you really aren’t a part of it anymore.
  • You don’t often (or ever) ask questions in a conversation in an effort to demonstrate you are listening, and to further understand the thoughts/feelings/opinions of the person you are in dialogue with.
  • You view conversations ultimately as a chance to share your own ideas, instead of an opportunity to truly and sincerely learn from others in return.

If you want in on this challenge with me to listen more and talk less in 2021, flick me a note to let me know you are joining me, and why you are. In a world full of noise for noise sake, let’s see if we can dull a tiny bit of it by listening more. Who knows what we might actually get to hear?

Are you ready to drive positive change in your Organisation this year? Then reach out to me and let’s talk about how I can support you to create more self-aware leaders who talk less, listen more and set them up with the skills to help drive your business forward. Reach out to me here.