When this happens to me, I sometimes find it irritating.
I notice this when I am talking to someone and trying to explain a situation or dilemma. Some will nod and even interrupt.
“Oh yeah, I know all about that.”
Then the person goes on to explain his similar situation. Or, a person explains that she understands and comprehends your struggle. In fact, she believes she knows exactly what to do. In the meantime, you have been unable to finish your story because the person keeps interrupting.
This is irritating.
Yet, I have been guilty of the same behavior.
- I think I have someone’s dilemma figured out.
- I think I know what to do.
- I think I understand how someone feels.
- I think I have an answer.
I remember a few specific occasions when I blurted out my response to someone’s story before they ever finished their sentence. When I have done this, that person’s final words seem to fade away, as my own words and sentences overpower the conversation.
Yet, so often what others want is to simply be heard.
Ask clarifying questions.
People want to see that a listener is really attempting to understand what is being said. Asking clarifying questions can be helpful toward better comprehending and grasping what another is saying.
“What did you mean by that?”
“How did you feel when she said that to you?”
“How long has this situation been this difficult?”
Speak back what you have heard.
This is especially important when another’s dilemma is complicated, involved, or is somewhat confusing.
“Ok, I think I heard you say this situation become more difficult when the next manager attempted to implement the new policy. As a result your department became very chaotic. Is this accurate?”
The other person then has the opportunity to clarify or elaborate on what what was just said.
Ultimately, I want others to feel like I really listened and tried to comprehend what they were saying.
What are some of the characteristics of good listeners that you know?