Dr Diann Rodgers-Healey

Have you ever found yourself, when speaking to another person, being interrupted by the other person constantly, as you are speaking? And that their interruptions are focused on what they believe to be the case, irrespective of any arguments and evidence that you present?

Stephen R Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change comments that “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand: they listen with the intent to reply.”

In the above scenario of poor listening, it is clear that the listener is driven to jump in to reply. But this situation is also about the listener making judgements while the conversation is occurring and would seem to have done so before the conversation takes place, as the interruptions are focused indicating their mind is made up. Their pre-judgements of the context shape the attitude they bear, and their determination to stick to their judgement makes their ability to listen to new lines of thinking, impenetrable.

At this impasse in any context, management, social or personal, how does a speaker get his/her message across to the listener? This is the question that most managers face as they delve into how to get their employees to listen and adopt their instructions and recommendations. Parents, community leaders or just about anyone talking to someone who fails to listen, faces this question.

Before we consider this question, however, if we take a step back, there are some fundamental questions that the speaker needs to consider: Why is the listener interrupting them and what are their interruptions about?

To answer these questions, the speaker needs to become the listener. The speaker needs to suspend their judgement, evaluation and pre-planned outcomes of the situation and listen wholistically to the other person inorder to understand what they are saying and why.

It is from this basis, that this interaction can be harmonious and productive. The speaker can move forward making the choice to integrate, review, re-iterate or suspend their line of thinking and plans, and the listener feels heard and valued and awaits the next step in this interaction.

Failing to listen to the person interrupting, means that the speaker is on a one-way track to communicate their message, regardless of any ongoing opposing input.

If this was the case, then we would have to believe that speaking has nothing to do with listening. This simple and accepted definition might seem totally logical, but in reality, effective speaking has everything to do with listening and vice versa.

My take on moving forward from Covey’s statement, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand: they listen with the intent to reply,” is:

Those who listen with the intent to reply and do reply, need to be listened to by the speaker to enable the conversation to advance to a deeper level of engagement and potential for both parties.

I hope you will join me in the workshop, Embrace the High Art of Listening on 24 August at Shellharbour Civic Centre, to explore how to apply a deeper level of listening in your workplace and or personal contexts.

More information and Registration for this Enabling SEED Circle is at https://illawarracfe.com/program-enabling-seed-circles/

Thank you.

(Image source: Kristin Baldeschwiler, Pixabay)