When we listen to others, it often triggers thoughts of our own experiences.  We say things like, “Oh, that reminds me of the time…”  Resist the urge to jump in and take the conversation away from them.  It’s their story, not yours.

“Pay” Attention to What They Are Saying and Help Others Think for Themselves.  We often give little thought to the fact that people need to feel heard.  Talking about issues and challenges with others allows us to hear our own thoughts and clarifies our thinking.  Use these questions to help others get “unstuck” and find their own solutions:

  • dont-jump-inWhat is the current situation or opportunity you face?
    Describe the current situation. Who? What? When and for how long?
  • So what are the implications, now and for the future? What feelings are associated with this situation or opportunity? Feelings are facts.
  • Now what are you going to do next? In what ways are you contributing to the current situation?  What is within your control as a next action?

“Pay” Attention to Your Reactions and Avoid Listening to Interpret (waiting your turn to talk) – It’s just a fact that listening to others often triggers a reaction and emotion within us.  We want to be helpful and demonstrate that we’ve met similar challenges with success.

Don’t do for others what they can and should do for themselves.  Pay attention to that voice inside your head when these thoughts appear:

  • What experience have I had that this reminds me of?
    It’s just human nature to have one individual’s experience remind us of our own. Suspend the need to tell your story and refocus on the person.
  • So what do I think they should do?
    Because we can listen to more words per minute than the average person can speak, we naturally jump into problem solving mode. Even if we offer the best advice or solution, it’s their problem not ours. If all goes well and they follow our advice, they’ll be back for more. If it doesn’t go well, they know who to blame and fail to take that necessary look in the mirror.
  • Now what?
    Before offering suggestions and ideas they may not have considered on their own, hold them “able.”  Encourage them to come up with solutions and next steps first.  Encouraging and rewarding their ideas builds confidence and fuels action.

Then listen for these words, “Hey, thanks for the HELP!”