We have demonstrated that we can be fully engaged with another person. We are totally attentive to what is being said to us. We are checking out their body language, and paying attention to any messages we don’t mean to send.
We have helped them get to the end of the story they wanted to tell. This is vitally important. We are an impatient and easily distracted breed, and we want to hurry things along. We push people in the direction we want them to move. We fill in the words before they can say them. We crowd out their sentences and make a story we want to hear and address. Or we turn it into a story that we want to use to feed some of our corrective action into their lives.
We have opened ourselves and we have listened. Now we have reached a point where we can ask questions for clarification and understanding. But, we need to remember to stay within the bounds of their story, and not stray into the realm of our judgments.
This is not the time to bring up historical (or hysterical) arguments, past indiscretions, previous hurts or to point fingers. This is also not the time to broach the things you want to fix in them or in their lives.
The questions are to bring clarity to us. To make clear what they want and need to discuss. The questions are to help us comprehend the underpinnings of what’s truly going on. What are they really talking about?
Most importantly, the inquiry is to be sure that we are both in the same story and on the same page!
And finally, we ask to show that we are human. We are alert, available, and have listened and now we have full grasp of the situation or topic.
What would you add to these first three steps?
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jason-samfield/5096064815/sizes/m/in/photostream/