As the old saying goes, there is a reason we humans have two ears and one mouth.
Think of the 3-5 most important people in your life. What’s the last thing they said to you? What’s the last thing that person said to you in confidence? Do you listen to them?… Do you really listen to them?
We tried a little exercise at the Good Empire office recently to help us learn the power of active listening and how it can grow and strengthen your connections with people. To be honest, we were all pretty shocked with how emotional and profound the exercise became.
You can practice this exercise in your daily life, even without the other person knowing you’re doing it, give it a try.
The Active Listening Exercise
– Find a partner to practice with
– Ask your partner to tell you something that is super important to them. Maybe they can relay a story to you that they have experienced that brings up emotion. Ask them to talk to you about the scariest moment in their life, or the last time they cried, or anything that simply means something to them.
– Your partner needs to talk for 4 minutes. No more, no less.
If they struggle to talk for the 4 minutes, they should simply pause in silence and try to remain eye contact with you.
– You are to try and avoid speaking at all during those 4 minutes (God I found that part difficult), try not to even do the old head nod or “ah-hms”..just sit, and listen.
– After the 4 minutes is up, it is now your turn to speak.
– Your task is to relay your partner’s story. It’s not about trying to remember things word for word, it’s about simply (or not so simply) relaying the important information, the way your partner wanted it to be told.
– Once you’re done, your partner is to tell you how you went. Did you listen? Did you miss anything important? Did you relay the story?
You’ll be surprised at how it goes.
I struggled to listen, and I mean really just listen, instead of constantly try and butt in with ways to help, or console, or fix the situation. When it was my turn to relay, I could only remember the things I wanted to say and the advice and help I wanted to give, rather than the things I was being told.
It’s powerful stuff. Give it a go and please do let us know how you went.