Rule 9: Assume that the person you’re listening to might know something you don’t.
I don’t know everything. It is absurd to mention that since doing so assumes I’ve at least thought it (that I knew everything).
It follows that by assuming this, you do not need to listen to anyone else. This is a mistake. At best, you shut out learning opportunities. At worst, you become someone everyone avoids.
Listening is a skill. It’s tough to do . There’s ego involved and everyone places shields when someone mentions something inconvenient. Treat the listening session as a joint search for the truth of the matter. Most people want to pursue truth. Pursue it safely. There’s a lot of sensitive material to cover when dealing with important topics.
Use the Rogerian Method of listening (and criticizing). Named after psychotherapist Carl Rogers.
- Listen to the other person (obvious). Do so with great concentration and without distractions. Place all devices down when having an important discussion.
- Summarize their message. Do this not so that you can shoot it down with a counter-argument. Rather do this with an open-mind. Be accepting of a different position. Comes to a common understanding.
- After this, pursue the truth. Advance the conversation to uncomfortable places. Keep this in mind when dealing with tough conversations. All parties can retreat back into safety the moment a conversation becomes uncomfortable.
Once we place down our guards and accept that our positions may not be all-encompassing, we can push the conversation forward.
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