Ki Moments Blog

Support for life’s “key” moments.

February 1, 2023

How to Be A Better Listener

How to Be A Better Listener

I was walking with a friend who said she'd been having trouble sleeping. I listened for a bit and then began to share some practices I thought would be helpful when she wakes up in the middle of the night. We're good friends and our relationship weathered this advice-giving diversion on my part. She told me she appreciated the intervention, but what she really wanted was for me to hear her frustration. 

Have you ever "shifted" a conversation to yourself and your story when you thought you were empathizing, helping, or adding relevance? 

I recently read this post by Tammy Lenski and saw myself. tammy lenski

Be a Better Listener With This One Crucial Habit

The post begins:

You’ll be a better listener when you disagree with someone if you can first master better listening in your everyday conversations. Here’s a good place to start: Trade shift responses for support responses.

Tammy suggests that sometimes we think we're supporting, as in...

  • Comment: I have so much to do, I can't think where to start.
  • Response: I hear you. Yesterday I spent the whole day just catching up!

...when we're really "shifting" the conversation to us and to our story. 

If, in fact, we want to be supportive, we listen, acknowledge, and ask questions that help the speaker by encouraging them to continue their story.

  • Comment: I have so much to do, I can't think where to start.
  • Support Response: How can I help? 

We cannot practice these concepts and skills enough. I've been teaching active listening practices for decades, and I still sometimes hijack someone else's story with my own often well-meaning attempts to be relevant, offer advice, or just stay involved in the conversation.

I hope you'll read Tammy's post, which is full of great examples, and subscribe to her newsletter and podcasts. Tammy is a professional conflict resolution educator, speaker, author, coach, and mediator, and good friend.

Meanwhile, sending good ki your way in this second month of the new year...

Good ki!

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