At a recent workshop for an executive group at Microsoft we discussed using a shared language for listening. We defined three methods:
The goal with defining these styles ws to say 'How do you want me to listen to what you are saying?' It was to help them set expectations for the conversation, and allow the listener to be attentive and best provide what their fellow co-worker needed. It also created a little negotiation in the beginning of the conversation, so that both parties were on the same page with what they wanted to have happen. And many times, one thing bled into another. Conversations would begin as a Friend, and then change into the Solver. However, it was the speaker, the initiator who was responsible for the changing. 'I wanted you to listen as a Friend, but I guess I am asking you to help me Solve this as well...'
So when you head into a conversation - try setting up the expectation of how you should listen. Does your co-worker need a Rock, a Solver, or a Friend? Ask first, and see if you set the expectations first to be be the most attentive and available you can be.
Which way do you want me to listen?
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