Suspending, exploring and changing perspectives

“Imagine a world where people were committed to truly listening—not only to what is being said, but to what is not being said. What if people listened deeply, allowing us to see and be seen in our humanity? What if it was safe to routinely tell the truth to one another—even the hard truth? What if we were comfortable sitting with people during emotional times? We would hold conversations driven by honesty, respect, curiosity, and commitment.”.  H. Kimsey-House, CTI

 This section gives you input on 2 topics

  1. Leadership Training this month
  2. 5 listening tools

1) Leadership training #4

Your training exercise is: Acting, experimentning and prototyping your intention, making it come alive.

IRL: Following up on what you committed to when we last met, experiment with different ways of leading and being curious on the impact you create.

Aditional task: Use the perspective coaching tool (scale) either physically or verbally with at least one other person.

5 listening tools

In addition to the shift in mental focus from listening on level 1 (autopilot, unconscious) to level 2 (listening with genuine curiosity and focus) you can enhance both the effect, quality, and outcome of conversations by practicing concrete tools.

1) Design. Spend a few seconds or minutes in “meta-view” at the start of each conversation. What would the other person like to get out of the conversation? What would be a nice outcome? How can you achieve this together? You might want to ask clarifying questions to get to the essence of the current needs of the other person.

PS: Choose transparency and openness: Don’t be afraid to inform the other one that you would like to try to listen deeper, practicing.

2) Recovery. An obviously helful skill that helps you strengthen your level 2 listening and at the same time recognizing the other person in the conversation. The Recovery-skill is about noticing when you are lost in the conversation (confused, unsure or emotionally “knocked off center”). This skill has three parts:

  1. Notice it: Becoming aware is crucial. When you are in the conversation, the reason for “getting lost” or disconnected is not important, only that fact that that it has happened is important. Remember, it´s not about you.
  2. Name it: Articulate to the other person what just happened. Its about including! When you articulate and include the other person you share responsibility and the other person will help the conversation back on track.
  3. Reconnect: With your heart and mind, reconnect to the other person. Some people use compassion and admiration and other people use a few milliseconds to think about something that they believe in in the other person.

3) Clarifying (summarizing). Listening in a focused way can sometimes feel like walking slowly through a fog. And it is not entirely sure that the other person are totally clear on what they are communicating (remember, you are creating something through your conversation). By asking clarifying questions you help the other person become more clear on what they are actually saying, and in doing so you “walk beside them in the terrain of thoughts and feelings”. Clarifying questions could be:

  • What I am hearing is… that right?
  • It sounds like what you are trying to say is…..does that hit the mark?

 4) Bottom lining. Sometimes the story telling takes over the conversation. Most of us have this huge need for adding context or making sure that everyone know everything. But this is rarely necessary to create awareness, change, and new strategies for how to move on in a situation. The story can however be fun and interesting and will definitely sidetrack any conversation from becoming fruitful and useful. So by bottom linking you can elegantly interrupt the other person (on their behalf, on the behalf of their progress). A few ways you can do this is by open ended questions that creates reflection and learning:

  • What is the bottom line of this story? What is then important when moving forward?
  • Of all that you have shared now, what is the most important?
  • I hear you tell an interesting account of what happened. What now?
  • I hear a story with so many aspects and parts, which part is truly important to you and useful for you to focus on or learn from?
  • Wow, this sounds like a situation with many dilemmas, what is important when you have to make a choice?

5) Perspective. A very useful way of creating new awareness is asking the other person to take another perspective on the topic that are being coached/discussed. Let´s say you are listening and coaching a person who feels stuck or having trouble moving forward creatively in a project. After the person has described the topic, you can ask open ended perspective questions like:

  • Think of a smiliar situation you were once in (….allow time for reflection….) – what did you do then, that could be helpful now? (NB: We are not necessarily searching for a concrete answer at this point, but shifting the other persons focus from “stuckness” to potential different strategies and new ways of thinking.
  • What do you think I would do in your situation?
  • What would be the advice of a five year old?
  • In what way does “asking for help” feel like a possible way forward? If not, what choices do you have?