The truth about listening: You don't.

We must be clear from the outset that, what I'm about to explain is not a problem. Nothing is wrong here. Nothing should be any way other than the way it is. It's something that's useful to know about, because once you know about it, you can do something about it.

You don't listen. You never have; you never will; and you're not listening now, either.

While you might think that you are listening to what I'm saying, what you're actually listening to is what you're saying about what I'm saying.

Notice how, when someone's talking to you, you stop listening as soon as you think of what you want to say to them, and you just wait for them to shut up so you can talk? Steven Covey noticed this phenomenon and described it like this: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Again, there is nothing wrong here. There is a problem here, but this is not it. You're never going to be listening to what someone says to you. You will always only ever hear what you tell yourself about what someone else tells you and that's fine. Keep it that way.

The problem is this: given that it is the nature of humans to hear what they want to hear instead of what is being said to them, how do we build a world that works for everyone?

Leveraging your failure to listen

It is in your power, when someone says something to you, to tell yourself whatever story you want to tell yourself about their words. You are not a slave to it. It is not something that just happens to you. What they say happens, and you have no control over it–at least no direct control. You have complete control over your interpretation. (Notice I didn't say “reaction.” Interpretation is part of reaction but not the whole of it.)

You could spend a long time trying to figure out the best way to leverage this power, so here is a synopsis of what I've found to be most useful. When you're listening to someone, listen for these three things:

  1. What I actually said,
  2. The experience behind those words–especially how I felt, and
  3. my underlying commitments that bring me to say this. Commitments to being safe, being adventurous, avoiding failure, expressing love, whatever.

Causing others to listen

When a person thinks he's not being heard, he usually speaks louder. If the problem is noise, this works well; otherwise, it's insane.

You can't make someone listen who doesn't want to by speaking. That's not an option. But there are things you can do that can help invoke listening, and they're all basically improving your own listening.

FIXME Clearly, the rest of this section is missing.

Removing Jargon

In Landmark jargon, we talk about “listening” both as a possessive noun and a verb that's been heavily modified. You're probably already familiar with the concept, just not the verbiage; we're talking about a mental filter of sorts, that affects your perceptions. For example, my listening of Republicans is that they're stupid; therefore, I notice more when they say stupid things, and fail to notice when they're smart; therefore, they seem stupid to me.

Landmark teaches “100% responsibility” in life, not like it's my fault, but like I can do something about it. If your listening for me (possessive noun) is that of a flake, I'm responsible for it. By being consistent and doing what I say I'm going to do, I can affect it.

The next part of affecting someone's listening (possessive noun again) of you is what they call “enrollment conversations.” This is complete jargon and I wish to dispense with it ASAP. “Enrollment” in their vocabulary has nothing to do with signing up for something. In an enrollment conversation, you become authentic regarding something about which you have been inauthentic. This creates a clearing, in which you can create a possibility.

So, continuing the previous example: I might say to you, “I have been really flaky in the past, and I'm sorry. I kept letting things get in my way. The possibility I'm inventing for myself is the possibility of being unstoppable, and I promise to do what I say, and to have it done on time, and I won't let things stop me anymore.”

tactics/listen.txt · Last modified: 2014/06/09 20:55 by naptastic
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