While listening to a podcast, a man suffering from an alcohol addiction shared an interesting point about how recovery would only be possible if he changed his perspective about the way forward.
He said that long-term recovery only became possible when he stopped thinking he had all the answers …
“I already know what I think. My job is to listen.”
These two short sentences are powerful. This man is aware that it’s time to start learning from the experiences of others.
As I reflect on this message, it’s becoming even more clear today that I have the wrong understanding of what it means to have a conversation.
It’s true that talking with another person means it’s a two-way interaction. However, conversing does not automatically mean we must equally share the talking space.
Think about it … I could listen more and talk less.
I’ve walked away from many conversations feeling uneasy because I dominated the time I shared with another person. In other words, the conversation was mostly about me and my wants.
Here are some ways we can be fully engaged in a conversation by practicing active listening …
- “Rob, I heard that your family recently traveled to Europe for 30 days. Please tell me more about it.”
- “Emily, we know the customer is unhappy about the delay on this project. What are your ideas on how to get the project back on track? Also, what do you recommend we do to help make things better for the customer?”
- “Gentlemen, launching this men’s bible study for our parish is a big step. Please share your ideas on what we can do to increase our membership.”
For each of the three scenarios noted here, let’s consider the “let me dominate the conversation” approach to see how it resonates …
- “Rob, I heard you recently went on a vacation to Europe. We went to Hawaii and had a great time. Let me tell you more about it.”
- “Emily, I heard the customer is unhappy about the delay on this project. We must get back on track right away, and this is the way we are going to do it. Also, please call the customer right away and explain that we are doing the best we can to handle this situation.”
- “Guys, this men’s bible study program is important to our parish. Here are my ideas on how to make it grow.”
To become better in my interactions with others, humility is critical. If the goal is to talk incessantly about me and my accomplishments, the task is easy … don’t think … just talk.
As we observed with the gentleman with the alcohol addiction, over-talking may lead to making excuses, and we might be unwilling to address the underlying problem.
The fact is that true learning only happens when we stop thinking we have all the answers.