Ever listen then, just listen?
When did you last take the time to simply listen to someone without offering your advice and problem solving skills? Sometimes, it is essential to just listen to gain a better understanding of an issue. Jumping to a conclusion before you have really absorbed the facts or the underlying problem can result in burying the issue further instead of bringing it up to the surface. This is evident in relationships with friends, family, spouses, and really any type of relationship. When someone feels that they are heard but not understood, then the connection seems lost and often resentment can remain. Appreciating someone and showing it rather than saying it can have a long lasting effect on any relationship. Learn how to practice this in small steps to start, and work your way up. Progress needs that first step to move forward.
Problem solving has a natural critical focus on what’s wrong. Add to this our society’s action orientation and linear sense of time, and you understand how we feel more valued when we are more in a “doing” mode than a “being” mode. We may not even know what a “being” mode entails. The doing and critical mode become our unconscious, normal operating mode. Women who assimilate to white male culture to succeed at work can find themselves adopting the same pattern. With our desire to add value, we overuse our problem-solving strengths, trying to fix when others simply want us to listen or appreciate them. I often ask white men how many of them have had a significant other say, “I don’t want you to fix this. I just want you to listen.” Most raise their hand and say it’s common.
By creating a stronger ratio of appreciative focus to critical focus, we build a stronger foundation for effective partnerships at work and at home. In my last blog, I spoke about putting more focus on inquiry versus defaulting to advocacy as a way to build inclusion. Another core skill we can flex like a muscle is appreciation. Using inquiry and appreciation together can build new levels of partnership in our personal and professional lives. Extract from MARC blog, April 2013