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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Use Your Words

Sense the conversation
In the last post we started talking about the art of listening actively and authentically. The first step is to become empathic and attentive. Turn off all distractions that you can, turn on your mind, and turn on all of your senses.
Now that you have turned off your self-focus for a moment, and have met this person “where they are,” what do we need to do next?
Use Your Words
We need to show signs of life- with words and actions.
We need to engage them. Engagement, in a general sense, means that we become part of something. If we are engaged to be married, we officially become part of a unified couple. In this sense, we become part of the story, or part of the process of getting the story told.
We engage them with words and actions. With words, not questions.
Words that help move the story along.
Words that comfort and support.
Words that show that we are paying attention.
Words that help them finish the story; not words that finish the story for them.
What do we do when we are interested in something?
We lean in. We face front. We reposition so that our face and body are facing the same direction. We lean in. We reach out. We touch. We close the distance between us and the object or person of interest. We engage physically.
As we are moving to close this distance, we need to check ourselves.

What is your stance? What kind of postural clues are you sending out?

Is your posture open or closed? Are you arms and legs crossed and folded, or are you pretty loose. This is one of my personal issues. Even when I am relaxed, I tend to cross my arms and legs. So I have to make a conscious effort to un-do it when I notice.

Is your stance receptive or repulsive? Are you all boxed-up and physically pushing people away without realizing it? Or, are you receptive? Easy to come up next to?

Is your pose alert, or does it convey the boredom?

There is no specific order to these things and they should come naturally, or at least look natural. If it feels awkward, practice. Just as you are working to become more aware of others, you should get to know your own postural and facial tells and clues as well. You best friends can help you with this.

We give away much more information in the way we do things and the way we move than most of us realize.
So far...

For attentive and authentic listening, we have two things to work on…
Gear up your senses. Actually look at the person you are communicating with. Look at all of them. Truly notice them.
Second, engage with words to help, comfort and move their story-telling forward. Remember, this is their story, not yours!

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/onkel_wart/557289163/sizes/m/in/photostream/

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