We all know that human relationships are dynamic. They ebb and flow. They can be fragile.
The wrong message, delivered at the wrong time in the wrong tone of voice, can cause tension and damage trust.
This edition of True Insights illustrates a simple technique that can instantly reduce tension and increase trust in any relationship.
The technique is called listening without judgment.
Put another way, we can choose to listen to understand before we apply our judgment to what we are hearing. Doing this involves a subtle but profound shift in mindset and approach.
If we are listening with judgment, we are not trying to understand the other person. We are listening critically, looking for holes in the logic, finding fault, searching for things we might disagree with.
We listen this way more often than we might think.
Imagine you are a manager listening to one of your team members report on a project that is behind schedule. Are you listening to understand what the problem is, or are you listening with a sense of irritation or frustration, looking for holes in the explanation, preparing to chastise your team member and demand accountability?
The same thing might happen in parent-child conversations, or in conversations between colleagues. We hear something we don’t like and Boom! The Judge takes his or her place on the bench.
When we listen this way, the person we are interacting with knows it. They feel our judgment and get defensive. Where they might be willing to admit failure, now they truly are making excuses. Communication breaks down. Trust takes a hit.
If we are in a manager, parent, or colleague role, we are allowed to give feedback, to offer an opinion, to ask someone to be accountable. But if we do this before we have listened without judgment, how well do you think the other person will take our feedback? If you felt someone was not trying to understand you, but rushing to a conclusion about that situation and telling you where you went wrong, how would you take it?
I see this again and again in manager subordinate, parent-child, colleague relationships. I even see subordinates listening to their direct supervisors with judgment.
I also see what happens with people decide to listen to understand, without judgment, before they decide what they think about what they’ve heard.
When that happens, communicate quality goes up immediately, and trust grows.
How do you listen? How do you want to be listened to? I hope it is without judgment. I’m trying to be that way too.
Yours in learning,
True Talk #14 Listing without Judgment (ENG)