23 Apr How to listen until your ears hurt
This week’s task is about listening. I want you to learn how to really listen to what people are sharing with you, and what sharing that piece of information means to them.
Lots of people THINK they’re listening.
They do all the right things, nod their head, ask open-ended questions to engage the other person, and they may even talk less than 40% of the time as instructed by the fundraising textbooks. But they miss the core element of listening.
Real listening opens up a special side of someone, a side that is reserved for people that really take the time to “get you.” Great communicators, great fundraisers and great leaders embrace the power of listening.
Real listening builds a meaningful connection between two people. ← Tweet this
Here’s what “pretend listening” looks like. You:
- have a specific agenda that you’re focused on moving forward.
- don’t really care about the other person’s opinion . . . so you don’t remember it.
- assume all sorts of thing about the person sitting across from you. Because of this, you think you know what the person is going to say, so you don’t listen.
- have this amazingly cool idea that you must share, and you end up interrupting people during conversations. You have to be the smartest person in the room. (ouch!!)
- really want to listen, but you’re afraid of “empty air” so you fill in all the white space in a conversation with casual chit chat gibberish.
This week, listen with your ears, your eyes and your heart. What values or desires are people sharing with you?
Four techniques to get you started on being a great listener:
Understand the back-story—make a point of understanding where this person came from, and a few key details about their life (where they grew up, age of kids, one key salient point from the conversation). Relate it back to something in your life to make it easier to remember. (Ah, yes, Jane’s kids are just a little bit older than mine. You’ll never forget that now!)
Be ready to be vulnerable—Sharing something personal about yourself is a great step to opening up a meaningful conversation. Drop the pristine professional façade for a minute, and share something that you’re struggling with. Let the other person in.
When you’re talking too much, think of my favorite game: tennis—Tennis is the ultimate conversation: you can’t play tennis by yourself, and when one person hogs the ball, it’s really boring for the other person. Be a good sport and bounce the ball back and forth over the net. The minute you think you’ve been talking too much, you’ve been talking too much!
Ask for clarification—When you’re in a difficult conversation, take the time to clarify, or restate what you heard from the other person. “So what I understand is that…” or “Can I repeat that back just to make sure I’ve got it?” are great ways to build trust, and understand the other person’s perspective.