A good friend of mine named Tom was an excellent parent – his son was a really cool kid. When I was about to adopt my first child I asked him what advice he had for raising children. He said, “Listen to them. Listen actively. Everything else will follow from that.”
After having raised two children, I find that to be excellent advice. Eric Barker has published a post on the power of listening. He calls it, “How To Be Loved By Everyone: 6 Powerful Secrets,” which is not a good title, because I consider it self destructive to try to be loved by everyone. But I agree with the content of the post, which centers on improving relationships by active listening. Here are Barker’s take-aways:
Be a detective. You need to be interested. The best way to do that is to play detective and be curious.
How little can you say? Ask questions. Paraphrase to make sure you understand. Past that, just shut up.
Can you summarize to their approval? If you paraphrase what they said and they reply, “Exactly” — you win.
Don’t try to fix them.
Be Socrates. Help them find their own solution. People remember their own ideas best.
Monitor body language. Eye contact and open postures are good. Touch their elbow to help create a bond.
Review the common mistakes we all make. And then don’t do them.
Listen and people will listen back. In fact, they’ll do more than that. They will come to trust and love you.
He ends with this quote by David Augsburger:
“Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.”