Since August, I have been sharing key practices for joining with others to productively address complex problems we face in our lives. Just over a year ago, I wrote about listening and its value in problem solving. Listening is such an important skill to bring to our work with others that last week and over the next few weeks I am giving attention to four characteristics of good listening.
In addition to quieting oneself to focus on the speaker, listening involves responsive behavior that indicates to a speaker that you are hearing what they are saying. Some examples of behaviors that encourage a speaker to continue include: posture, looking directly at the speaker, nodding, or giving an acknowledging noise, like “Hmmm.” When thinking of postures that communicate openness to hearing the other, imagine the difference between someone sitting with arms crossed versus someone with arms open and relaxed. Or the difference you perceive in the attitude of someone sitting alert and leaning forward as opposed to someone leaning back in their seat or slouched. Reflecting on your own experiences speaking within a group, how has the posture of your audience members communicated their attitudes to you? What postures do those you believe are listening adopt? I hope you will share your observations in the comments below.
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Mary’s book “Talk Matters!: Saving the World One Word at a Time” is now available. Click here to purchase it.