Very often accused of not letting the other person complete his talk and of reacting hastily and dramatically, I am always trying to inculcate that rare quality of being a good, nay a great, listener.

And I came across this interesting article in Harvard Business Review, What Great Listeners Actually Do, by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman that throws new light on the topic. Contrary to what is believed, great listening is not being a sponge and absorbing what the other says; this research-based study suggests that an effective listener is like a trampoline, against whom you can bounce your ideas and who actively helps you look at things clearly and effectively.

So, I penned down a note to myself on all I learned from this HBR article. The style of writing is inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If’.

If I be silent while you talk
If I sit nodding now and then, making an occasional ‘mmm…hmmm’
If I can repeat what you say
Then you will know I hear what you say.

If I be active in the You-Me interaction
If I question you, gently, in a constructive way
If I do so without judgment, trying to comprehend
Then you will know I am interested in what you say.

If I be attentive to what you say and also, what you don’t say
If I listen to you with my ears AND eyes
If I hear you out without offense or defense
Then you will know I am trying to help in what you say.

If I be supportive and keep the conversation flowing
If I make suggestions which challenge your assumptions
If I help you sort your thoughts and see things in new light
Then you will know I am truly listening to what you say.
If I can remember to do all of this in every interaction I have: 
Then, only Then, will I be a great listener!

5 thoughts on “If & Then, Only Then

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