If you were to ask a person who wants the best for you and from you, “What would be the positive impact on my success, happiness and our relationship if I became a better listener? Small, Moderate, Large,” the most common answer you’ll receive is: Moderate.
If you were to ask that same person, “What has already been the negative impact on my success, happiness and our relationship when I have been at my worst as a listener? Small, Moderate, Large,” the most common answer you’ll receive is: Large.
I rest my case on the importance of listening and the benefits of improving it.
One simple, but humbling, way to improve your listening is to take the HUVA Listening Exercise.
HUVA Listening Exercise
Before and after you have an important conversation (and you may want to extend this to all your conversations) put yourself in the other person’s shoes and on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 = Not and all and 10 = Extremely, and rate yourself as to how much they felt:
- Heard out – How much did they feel heard out by you or did you constantly interrupt them and talk too much and beyond the point where they lost interest?
- Understood – How much did they feel accurately and empathically understood by you or did they feel misunderstood or worse that you made presumptions about them that from their point of view were not true?
- Valued – How much did they feel that what they said was valued by you and that it interested you vs. your pushing them to be interested in and value you?
- Added value – How much did they feel you added value (= being a plusser) to what they were saying vs. their feeling you detracted (= being a minuser) to what they were saying or you tried to top it (= being a topper)?
If you’re someone who poo-poos the above or worse feels like ridiculing it, what is the impact on you when:
- Instead of feeling heard out, you’re are constantly interrupted of someone is constantly changing the subject?
- Instead of feeling understood, you feel misunderstood and people are jumping to (wrong) conclusions about and even at you?
- Instead of feeling valued, you felt minimized by them or that what you said was quickly disregarded?
- Instead of feeling that they added value to what you were saying, you felt they diminished the value of what you were saying or just tried to one up you?
Be intentional and try this exercise once a day for a week. To get even more benefit from it and further motivate yourself to improve as a listener, tell selected people, whose esteem and regard are important to you, “I’ve committed myself to a program of personal development by becoming a better listener. If you’re willing, I’d like your help to do that. Therefore I’m going to occasionally ask you after we’ve had a middle to longish conversation how much you felt I heard you out, how much you felt I understood you, how much you felt I valued what you had to say and finally, how much you feel I added value to what you said vs. diminishing it.
If the above seems too daunting, there’s a good chance, you’re one of the people who could most benefit from it.
Good luck. You can do this!
Also something that could also help you on this journey would be to check out a copy of my book, “Just Listen” Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone which I am humbled by it becoming the top book on listening in the world. And you might enjoy my guest appearance on Harvard Business Review’s Ideacast episode: Become a Better Listener (which has been their #1 ranked podcast for three years).