Many years ago, I was in the lunchroom at my day job fixing some lunch (of course). Several of the “regulars” were in there eating and talking. Two of them, a man and a woman, joke around and tease each other a lot. Some of it was funny. So, I used to think.
The woman was teasing the man about the crossword puzzle in that day’s paper. Basically, implying that he wasn’t smart enough to actually do it. Barbs and jabs were traded and everyone laughed on both sides.
On the way home that night I was listening to Doug Firebaugh’s Secrets to Becoming a Recruiting Magnet. While listening, it hit me that I let the woman’s barbs color how I saw the man, as a not terribly bright, but extremely nice guy. Hmmm. So, that made me think of the question, “How do you want to be listened to?”
What if I had listened to this man as an intelligent person with wit and humor? He did do the crossword puzzle. He had wit and humor. But I listened to him as she had portrayed him. That was very bad listening on my part.
So, it started me thinking about all the little joking and teasing that we encounter all the time. Mostly from friends and family. (Who needs enemies when you have friends and family?) How much of what they say colors how we listen to others and ourselves? Too darned much I would bet.
It was a real eye-opener. I started to imagine what it would be like to listen to everyone as if they had something of value to say and offer to me. After all, isn’t that the way that we want to be listened to?
What new relationships and partnerships are we missing out on because we let don’t take the time to REALLY listen to what people have to say? And sometimes they may not have anything of earth-shattering value to SAY (not everyone is profound all the time), but they have a lot of value in how they make you and others feel. And they sure won’t have anything of value for you if you aren’t listening for it.
What would happen to your life in general if you did this? I once told my mentor that the stuff he teaches is not networking skills, but rather LIFE SKILLS. That is what I am talking about here too. What if you listened to your spouse this way? What about your kids? What about your co-workers and your boss? The guy in line at the bank? The lady at the gas pump?
So, now I work on listening for it more consistently. I work on putting my false and unsubstantiated impressions in the trash and listening for the value in others.
How about you?