18 Aug 2010

A Powerful Listening Tool You Can Make at Home

Posted by paulandrew

When the stakes are low, it’s not that difficult to just be present and listen. Yet great listening is most impactful when the stakes are high—and that’s when “simply listening” becomes not so simple.

Thus I’ve been thinking about ways to support myself in being a good listener, particularly in situations that are emotionally “hot,” for instance listening for a friend who is in a tough relationship, or for another friend who is faced with a major career decision.

I’d like to share with you a surprisingly powerful tool I’ve created that helps me to stay present as a listener. This tool has its origins in the roots of Supportive Listening.

Ever since Eran and I started Supportive Listening in 2007, we’ve been asking ourselves, “What are the key beliefs that bring about great listening?” And one of the beliefs that we’ve surfaced again and again is this: a belief that simply being heard is extremely valuable.

So why have a tool just to remember this one simple idea, that you’ve most likely heard many, many times?
Here’s the thing: while you might understand intellectually that “being heard is powerful,” as a listener it’s very easy to forget that notion, especially in the heat of the moment when it’s needed most.

When your emotions start running, it’s so very easy to jump in, pass judgment, and tell the other person what to do. This emotional “take control” impulse, which often has negative consequences, then wins out over the intellectual belief of “being heard is valuable.”

So what can you do to support yourself in being strategic and “just listening” rather than being emotional and “taking control?”

One approach is to create a simple reminder card. I’ve created a wallet-sized card, about the size of a business card, which says “I trust that being heard is valuable.”

I keep this card by the phone, and when I’m talking to friends and family I hold it in my hands and glance at it every so often. And whenever I see the card, I have a small moment of recognition which helps me breathe, connect, and offer that powerful “being heard” experience to the person I’m listening to. It works wonders.

I invite you to give this a try. Get a small card (the back of a business card works well) and write this message on it:“I trust that being heard is valuable.” And keep the card by the phone. When a friend or family members calls, hold your card and occasionally glance at it.

See if this simple tool can help you to be more present, and more effective, as a Supportive Listener.

Best regards,


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