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In my opinion, the world would be a happier place if we would all just listen to each other. Many times rather than listening ‘holding the space’ and really being there we go in to ‘pseudo listening” or listening lite. Listening lite is when we pretend to listen, you know, when you are like yes, uh-huh, right, but you aren’t really engaged with the person. Today I am sharing some of the more common listening lite’s I have engaged in and experienced.
You aren’t listening to the other person because you are just plotting in your head what you will say next. You are trying to get your words right and get your argument perfect so you aren’t even hearing what the other person is saying.
When we are comparing ourselves to someone so we don’t really listen. For example your partner says, like saying he has had a tough day at work and in your mind rather than listening to his day you are thinking, “are you kidding me?!?! I was out with the kids and then working and then running around my day has been 10000 times worse.
This is a very common listening lite skill. When someone tells you a story you immediately start thinking about your own story that is similar. It is similar to the one-upping but this is not listening it all it is trying to relate your life to the other persons. For example: You just had the worst first date in the history of dating as you go to share it with your friend she immediately starts sharing about her worst first date in history. So you know she isn’t really listening to you and your unique awful first date story she is relating in her mind her story to yours.
When we problem solve we are listening only to solve the problem and not really ‘hold the space’. This again is a common listening lite skill. We THINK we are helping by trying to solve the persons problems but really they just need us to listen. I admit this is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves and I really do pride myself on not engaging in problem solving. But even I get stuck in this one from time to time. A few months ago a friend of mine had called me to tell me that she was having panic attacks and was overwhelmed. I immediately knew how to solve the problem! I knew that she needed a mini vacation, she needed to stop doing everything for her family, she needed to take a break! So being the good friend I am, I started plotting exactly what she needed to do and started to tell her my ideas. Then I heard her voice shift I heard her tearing up over the phone. And I said, ““I am sorry, we aren’t problem solving here, we are listening right?” and she said “yes, I just need some support right now I don’t need a solution”. I was busted! Even though I had the best intentions what most of us really need is a little support!
When you are in conformation mode you only listen long enough to catch the other person in a lie or to gather information for your counter argument. Confrontation is a common one when engaged in conflict or feeling attacked.
All of these listening lite tendencies can be stopped through awareness techniques. First you have to notice that you engage in them, you might notice them the next day, then the next hour and gradually you notice it in the moment. It might be helpful to share with your friends/partners that you are working on these tendencies so they can help you build your awareness in a loving supportive way.
So this week live happier and listen with gusto!!
Which listening lite tendencies do you struggle with the most?