Shut Up and Listen: How to Change Lives by Paying Attention
Posted November 1, 2018

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Shut Up And ListenGrowing up we were not allowed to say “shut up” at home. It’s still harsh sounding, and I use it only when necessary to make a point, and never direct it at someone with malice, but rather for guidance.

This is one of those instances when it is necessary to make a point.

“You were really listening to me.”

At the start of my coaching career, that statement took me by surprise, as a client said it to me, and then another client reiterated that same statement. Because of the frequency that I was hearing “you were really listening to me,” it was obvious that is was a significant problem. It makes me sad to think people are so regularly not listened to. It also highlights the value of coaching – a place people can be heard – and even more importantly, an opportunity to help people learn to listen and to ultimately connect with each other more successfully.

When people connect, amazing things can happen. Trust is established, relationships are strengthened, and problems can be solved. Without listening, you cannot connect. Without connecting, you cannot effectively create experiences that bring about results, whether in your personal or professional life. People have a primal need to connect with others.

Everything changes when someone feels they are being heard.

Listening is a skill that you want to practice and perfect.

Linda was a new client who worked for a major financial services company and was frustrated that her book of business wasn’t growing as aggressively as she would like. Even more painful was the fact a couple of clients had left her recently, and she was afraid the trend would continue. She wanted a coach to help her get back on track through goal setting and accountability to get new clients and to stop the losses. She knew the steps and processes of sales – she had been doing this a long time – and she realized she would benefit from coaching to make sure the plan was given the greatest chance of success.

It was the start of a new year, so it made sense to be making such commitments.

One of our early sessions focused on strengths and aspirations. We were identifying how Linda could capitalize on what she was doing successfully, and map those wins to the goals she was setting for the year. Intuitive listening includes not only hearing the words but listening to what isn’t being said. I asked curious questions that showed I cared and wanted to know more than just the simple metrics she wanted to set. A place of trust had been established between us. We connected.

Linda casually mentioned the value of independence and interest in perhaps someday running her own business and move away from her current mega company. It was shared as a bit of a pipe dream and something to consider at some point in the future. A discernable shift in her energy took place as she talked about this. I pointed this out to her, and we briefly discussed what that independence might look like. We resumed our focus on goal setting for the new year.

I did not realize at the time I called out her shift in energy, the profound impact it had on her. She later shared with me that when I told her I saw that shift; she knew she had to make it happen. Because of our connection, something amazing was created.

Our subsequent sessions started to include this element of exploring the genuine possibility of her starting her own company. We patiently worked both streams of building her current business while looking longer term.

The connection that was created through sharing, listening, trusting and exploring brought to the surface something so vital to her that it changed her life. Her confidence soared, and slightly more than 12 months later we were toasting the successful launch of her own company.

Listening in this way helps you connect with others, and the impact is tremendous. We all know when someone is only half listening. And that’s not very satisfying. We know people who listen and then just try to contradict what was said, and you feel drained from having always to be defensive or acquiesce. When you truly listen you are looking at the person in the eye, putting thoughts of judgment out of your own head, and really listening. That is the foundation for connection.

That is the start of surprising outcomes.

When you listen to connect – and not just to hear – you can unleash the unlimited capacity of both of your minds.

Excerpt from The Impact of Confidence: 7 Secrets of Success for the Human Side of Leadership, by Timothy J. Ressmeyer (2018). Available on Amazon

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