...listening requires more mental and emotional energy than even persuasive speaking. And, ultimately it inspire more liking and support for you than attempts to influence.
Because our gut instinctual reaction is to perceive that other people mean the same thing that we would mean if they say or act a certain way. For example, a man who once worked for me when I headed a high tech division of a company was often treated as if he was thick-headed or even a withholder because he took longer to respond to others’ questions, spoke much more slowly and haltingly than most everyone else in this fast-paced company and seldom looked people in the eye when he spoke to them.
“There is much to be said for not saying much.”
- Frank Tyger
As well, he seldom answered a question directly but often gave lengthy preambles and apparently tangential facts before he made his main point. He was, however the most brilliant, big picture and inventive of the people I met in the company. He was also extremely shy, easily overwhelmed by fast movements, loud and rapid speaking and rambunctious, interruptive discussions - the hallmarks of many of the meetings in this company.
His core work group, after considerable friction, miraculously agreed on a few, very specific Rules of Engagement to see if it would help them get along better. This happened only after he wrote a memo that elegantly and articulately outlined a solution to the main problem on the project in which they were working.
The rest of the group then realized that their success depended on making him feel comfortable in exchanging ideas - with them.
They agreed that they would not interrupt him when he was speaking, at least for four minutes, a more reasonable goal, they thought, that attempting to say they would never interrupt him.
He, in turn, agreed to propose his main idea upfront, and then elaborate, and to also respond directly to questions, then expand upon his answer.
The unexpected side benefit is that, over time, he became much more comfortable with speaking up sooner and ooking at others more as he spoke. The rest of the group, in turn, started noticing that thye were seeing other sides of each other as their meetings had slow as well as fast-paced parts to them.
Do people look like they feel heard when you are listening?
In the next post I'll describe the behavioral traits of people who are able to get more done - with others' agile involvement.