What you listen for in your conversations with others determines what you will get out of them. All too often, we listen to others in a casual or unfocused way. As a result, we come away with little from the conversation. In fact, we typically find ourselves listening to our own thoughts and internal chatter instead of to the other person.
Let's examine a few ways you can get more by listening for more.
*Listening for the greatness in others.
A characteristic that powerful people possess is the ability to empower others to greatness. This is the ability to see things in others that they do not yet clearly see in themselves... while creating the space for them to recognize it and rise to the challenge. It's about seeing others as great without any need on your part that they live up to your expectations.
In contrast, we typically listen from the perspective of our opinions and judgments. Listening this way filters out what is actually said and impacts what we are able to hear. How we see other people-as powerful or ineffective, intelligent or slow whited, insightful or with little to contribute -has everything to do with what we get out of our conversations with them. When we hold others as great, that's what our listening for them empowers them to become. Getting the most out of others - our spouses, families, friends, co-workers, employees etc. - is made more likely if we consider them to have the potential to be greater than they see themselves.
We call this the Pygmalion effect. Through it, we get from others those positive qualities we expect to see in them. As we listen to others in such a way that we champion them to be all that they can be, we support them to see possibilities in themselves that they did not previously see. Listening to others routinely in this way will enable them to gain in confidence and strength until they see themselves as powerful and capable of producing whatever effect they desire.
The key to empowering others to their greatness is to never offer the kind of help that makes them small, weak or dependent. It is about championing people by already considering them as great. This means listening for the possibility others are, for what is missing that if put into place would have them step into their power. It's about listening for what others need and want - not what you want. What you want is usually of little value when compared with what they are ready to receive.
Take the interpretation that you have the gift to empower everyone who comes into your life. And, likewise everyone has the same gift to contribute to you. Interact with others with the expectation that they have come to receive a gift from you. Your job is simply to discover what that gift is that you have to contribute to them. By listening for how you can contribute your gift to others, they will have been able to contribute the greatest gift possible to you - the gift of you becoming the person you have chosen to become on purpose.
*Listening for what others might contribute to you.
If you enter into each conversation you have with another person expecting to hear something of value that you can utilize, you will likely come away with that very thing. While generating this listening is easy with someone you consider to be powerful or insightful, it will require your returning yourself to your commitment to listen to the person with a positive expectation when his or her speaking does not reflect this power.
Generating a listening for value can be especially rewarding when you find yourself in a conversation with a person you would ordinarily dismiss as someone who has little to contribute to you. You will be amazed at the insights you can come away with from most any conversation when you listen with the intent of learning something new.
For example if you typically listen to others in an impatient way- hurry up and get to the point- you will need to remind yourself of your commitment to stay present in a conversation with a slow and deliberate speaker. Remember, someone's style of speaking may have little to do with what you can garner from your conversation with him.
*Listening for what is important to others and for what they are committed to.
By putting yourself in the other person's world and developing an appreciation for their values and concerns, it is much easier to gain an understanding as to why they think, speak and act the way they do. What might have otherwise led to a confrontation or lack of affinity with the other person might instead produce an empathy that would allow for a conversation to explore common ground. When you can hear the commitments of others, you can act out of the compassion that comes with having an interest in what it's like for them to be who they are.
*Listening with something at stake
What we get from a conversation with another person is often a function of what we have at stake in the conversation. To get a better sense about this, contrast how you typically listen to the pre-flight safety instructions given by the flight attendant before your flight takes off. If you are like the rest of us, you are only half listening or paying attention to what is being said. You are probably either reading something else or distracted in some way, figuring that the chances of the plane crashing are slim and none. And besides, you've heard it all so many times before.
How would this compare with a situation where half way through your flight, the attendant announces that the engines have failed and the plane IS going down? With your life at stake, you are likely to listen to the instructions in this case like you have never listened before.
Your listening is directly related to what you are listening for. In order to gain the maximum amount from every conversation you have, try listening from the point of view that everyone has something to share with you that is of great value. And, your intent is to get it regardless of who the person is, how powerful you consider him to be and no matter what his style of speaking. Listening for value in EVERY conversation will provide you with an unending succession of insights that you would not get from listening with less at stake.
*Listening for the good intentions of others
Another valuable listening to adopt might be to listen from the perspective that everyone operates from what they consider to be good intentions. I am NOT saying that this is necessarily true. And, it is an empowering interpretation that could support you in your relationships with others. This can be particularly valuable when the evidence appears to strongly suggest the contrary. When you step into another person's world and attempt to see things as they do, it is possible to imagine that they have acted from what they perceived to be good intentions.
Listening to others in this way allows for you to come up with an interpretation that supports the possibility of your relationship with the person. This perspective may support you at times and perhaps not at other times. It is entirely up to you to use as just another tool in your toolbox to maximize your effectiveness with others.
Listening For The Greatness In Others
1) For the next 30 days, practice any or all of the following listenings:
-to empower others to realize their greatness
-to hear how they might contribute something of value to you
-to appreciate their commitments and concerns and what it's like to be them
-with something significant at stake (perhaps your relationship with the other person)
-to hear the good intentions of the other person
2) Note in your journal any insights or possibilities that were created as a result of listening to others in these ways.
Dr. Joe Rubino is an internationally acclaimed trainer, author and success coach. He is the author of 6 best selling books available in 16 languages and 47 countries, including "Secrets Of Building A Million-Dollar Network-Marketing Organization From A Guy Who's Been There Done That And Shows You How To Do It, Too" which has been called by industry experts the best book available on how to build a successful MLM business. His new book, "The 7-Step System to Building a $1,000,000 Network Marketing Dynasty" from which this article was adapted is being used as a training guide by many Network Marketing companies and top distributors. He is also the creator of the acclaimed audio album and workbook, "10 Weeks to Network Marketing Success: The Secrets to Launching Your Very Own Million-Dollar Organization In a 10-Week Business-Building and Personal-Development Self-Study Course."
For more information on Dr. Rubino's coaching programs, books, tapes, CDs and courses, visit http://www.CenterForPersonalReinvention.com, e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.