It can be hard to listen…

Relationship building is about Communication. It is about providing value with each interaction. It is about Listening.

June was Pride month. We are still living with COVID. Black lives matter is still getting the attention it deserves. With it all, I’m doing a lot of listening. I use the word listening consciously.

Hearing is just the ability to perceive sound. It takes little effort. Listening is the ability to receive and interpret messages in the communication process. Without effective listening, communication breaks down. Hearing is easy. Listening requires effort to understand.

Seth Godin clarifies that listening requires a commitment to encountering the experience, intent and emotion behind the words. He also confirms that the commitment can be scary because we may have been avoiding those emotions and ideas that we are being exposed to.

That is food for thought. When we find ourselves not making the effort to really listen, could it be because we don’t want to face something?

Why am I talking about this? Relationship building is about communication. Effective communication happens when we listen. Listening takes effort. Listening shows respect. It also means being willing to expose yourself to things you might rather avoid.

Why am I talking about this? Relationship building is about conversations. Our conversations can lead to topics that might be things we don’t want to face. They may be conversations we would rather hear vs. listen to. When we hear, we are not respecting the ideas of others, when we hear, we are not open to the experiences of others, when we hear, we are choosing not to learn, not to grow. When we hear, we stop trying to understand. When we hear, conversations stop.

It feels like there are a lot of conversations to be had. To have these conversations means I have to be willing to get uncomfortable and really listen. I have to listen with the intent to understand and to be changed. I’m willing to get uncomfortable. I’m willing to really listen. I feel that I must.

I think relationships grow stronger, not when we all agree. They grow stronger when we respect each other and are willing to listen to each other. When we are willing to listen with intent. When we are willing to listen even if it makes us uncomfortable. Listening might mean you start to consider different things. Listening might mean you at least gain empathy for another person. Listening might mean you can see each other.

More than wanting to be heard, people want to be seen. I think listening is a way to do just that. To make the relationship grow, both parties have to listen. Both parties have to have empathy. Both parties have to respect each other.

I challenge you to look at the conversations you have had recently… are you hearing or are you listening? If you are hearing, maybe ask yourself why. What could it be you didn’t want to face?

“The roots of effective leadership lie in simple things, one of which is listening. Listening to someone demonstrates respect; it shows that you value their ideas and are willing to hear them.”

John Baldoni