I was at the PRINZ conference in NZ last month, and was impressed by a presentation on listening by Prof Jim Macnamara from University of Technology, Sydney.

What struck me was Jim’s research about listening- “there is no evidence of a correlation between talking to people and trust, and a strong correlation between listening to people and trust”

Now based on my observations, I’d think that many people seem to believe the opposite, ie that “if I can only explain things a little better”,”let them know a bit more”, “take more time to explain”…..then you will believe me and we’ll get on together and solve this.

So it got me thinking about some smart questions that we could ask ourselves that might help one shift that perspective and take the time to listen, even though such questions will probably challenge us and might be very uncomfortable- ie:

  • Do I see myself as the expert in this, and what do I do and say that may stop others contributing to the discussion?
  • To what extent do I believe I can solve this on my own, and don’t really need the input of others?
  • What do they know about the topic that I don’t know, or even can’t know?
  • What will stop me from hearing their views, before I say anything?
  • Do I feel I need to control the conversation, and if so why?
  • How would I go about letting them control the conversation?
  • What would I really like to know, and to what extent am I concerned they may perceive weakness or a lack of knowledge or confidence?
  • To what extent am I afraid to say I don’t know, and how might I be able to say that?

If we can ask such questions and answer honestly, it might help us shift our approach and facilitate greater curiosity and genuine listening, and likely a stronger relationship.