Three surprising insights about listening and encouraging others to talk.
Surprising insight number three.
Go slow to go fast.
Andrew Dobson, author of Listening for Democracy said, “speed is the friend of the powerful and an enemy of the powerless – or at least of those whose voices are typically not heard”.
In research conducted by Dr Emily Beausoleil, senior lecturer and researcher at Massey University, this apparent contradiction emerged. Many people engage in “interruptive listening”, she says, each one cutting across the other before the other has even finished speaking. When you go slowly in a conversation and take time to listen and absorb what the other person has said, then the other person is more likely to feel heard.
Going slow allows you to deepen your engagement with complexity. It softens resistance and encourages all involved in the conversation to be open to hearing new ideas. Furthermore, going slow enables unexpected discovery and change.
To slow your conversations down you need to get comfortable with pauses and silences. You might even let the other person know that you want to take a moment to really think about what they have said before you respond. Take time and reflect back the values you have heard from them. Use gentle questions and observations rather than interruptive listening.
For more tips on how you can improve your listening skills and how you react to others, pick up a copy of our book here