You’re Not Listening

I just read a great book called: You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters. I found this bestseller to be worth its label. In today’s world, we spend all our time talking at and not with each other. This book is not a lament of that aspect of society, but provides a practical way forward.

Avoid Assumptions

In this book, the author discusses how we can make thought errors leading to poor communication.

  “Making assumptions of uniformity or solidarity based on age, gender, skin color, economic status, religious background, political party, or sexual preference reduces and diminishes us all. By listening you might find comfort in shared experiences but you also find many points where you diverge, and its by acknowledging and accepting those differences where you learn and develop understanding.

Speaking as a white man or speaking as a woman of color … that’s impossible, one can only speak for oneself. A white man, a woman of color, an evangelical, an atheist, homeless person, a millionaire, a straight person, a gay person, a boomer, a millennial each has a singular experience that separates them from everyone else with that label.”

Other Viewpoints

She describes how we can feel challenged when another person has differing viewpoints, but this is the opportunity to listen.

  “When you feel like you will react with hostility to those who disagree with you, take a breath and ask them a question, not to expose flawed logic, but to find where they are coming from.

We only become secure in our own convictions by allowing them to be challenged. Confident people don’t get riled by opinions different from their own.”

The author also describes how listening to others and ourselves increases our creative abilities.

“Inner dialogue fosters and supports cognitive complexity. That valuable ability to tolerate a range of views make associations and come up with new ides.”

There are 2 kinds of responses from listeners:

  • Shift responses are self-referential statements
    • Goal is to sway the speakers point of view
    • Subtlety tries to impose own opinion
    • Like:
      • Didn’t that make you mad?
  • Support responses are other directed questions
    • Meant to elicit more information
    • Goal is to understand the speakers point of view
    • Open-ended questions like:
      • What was your reaction?
      • Fill in the blank questions (handing off a baton)
        • You and Bill were in a fight because ____?
    • Avoid asking incidental details that knock people off their train off thought
      • What street was that?
  • Good questions do not begin with:
    • Don’t you think..
    • Isn’t it true…
    • Wouldn’t you agree…
  • Good questions don’t end with:
    • , right?

“Microsoft found that since 2000, the average attention span dropped from 12 to 8 seconds. The goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds!”

Conversational Expectations in 4 Maxims:

  1. Maxim of quality – we expect the truth
  2. Maxim of quantity – we expect to receive information we don’t already know and not so much we feel overwhelmed
  3. Maxim of relation – we expect relevance and logical flow
  4. Maxim of manner – we expect the speaker to be reasonably brief, orderly, and unambiguous