Monday, October 25, 2010

Where is your box?

Have you ever been in a conversation where you KNOW that the other person is NOT listening? She is just waiting for you to finish your sentence so that she can counter with her arguments. Doing what we call “reloading the gun”? And started her next sentence with “Yes, but…”

Have you ever been in a conversation where YOU have not been listening? And started your next sentence with: “Yes, BUT…”?

Of course we all have.

When you walk into a conversation you are carrying a box in front of you. In this box are your frame of reference, your point of view and all the arguments you have planned. So is the other person. Both of these boxes bump into each other and they get in the way of the conversation. You only want to explain what is in your box and the other person is doing the same, what happens? Nobody listens.

You can only change yourself. So don’t even start to think: “if only the other would listen better, this conversation would be more fruitful”. Just don’t. You can change this.

Imagine a pedestal, a small table beside you. It has a nice tablecloth, it is solid and it is a nice place for boxes to be placed FOR A WHILE. Put your box there for a while. It will not disappear. It will not loose power and it will not change (unless it does :-)

Now you are ready to be interested in the others person and what’s in her box. Explore. Ask questions. Want to understand. Will your box try to jump back into the conversation? Of course it will, and you notice it when you catch yourself say “yes, but…” When this happens – turn your attention back to her and listen to what she is saying. Ask more questions.

I hear you ask: “So what happened to my arguments – I have a job to do to influence this person. When is she going to listen to what’s in my box?”. Simple. When you are interested in what’s in her box. When you show that you want to understand WHY she’s having her opinion, then she will be more interested in listening to what’s in your box. But only then.

Listen to understand – put your box aside.

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