Go Beyond Listening to Make Others Feel Heard

Think about the last time you felt heard. You might recall that you felt included and involved even when things didn’t go as you preferred. You may have been disappointed at an outcome or decision from the conversation, but you understood why it happened and you didn’t hold a grudge.

When people feel heard by you, they participate fully in your leadership, your organization, and the work that needs to be done. Things move forward, get done, and people collaborate to make sure they happen for the right way and reasons.

A conversation where people are hearing each other is flowing, slower than usual, and everyone feels welcome to participate. Judgments about what others are saying are few and far between; in fact, the best “hearing conversations” happen without judgment. People in the conversation aren’t trying to fix someone or something. They are listening for understanding.

A conversation where people don’t feel heard often sounds like staccato. Everyone is talking about themselves and what they want and think is best without connection between the words that are spoken. They are judging others and their opinions; and that judgment can range for kind to cruel.

Misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and (worse yet) a feeling of rejection and isolation keeps people from doing their best. Grudges are held on to and potential is stifled. If this goes on long enough, people will give up trying to be heard.

Summing-up: Go beyond surface listening to having a goal of making others feel heard. It’ll make a big difference in deepening the level of engagement you see in your organization.


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