Have you ever had a conversation with someone who responded in a way that suggested they heard something different from what you actually said? Some might call this a miscommunication — Nicole Mercolino, an intuitive coach, calls this “selective listening”. She told me:
“You know you’re speaking with someone who has selective listening when blame or excuses seem to be the name of the game. When I present Active vs. Selective Listening as a key aspect to successful communication, I often find the initial response is a quizzical look, followed by:
What do you mean by Active vs. Selective Listening? I hear what you’re saying… doesn’t that mean I’m listening?
No, actually, it doesn’t. Active Listening requires that you shut off your internal voice that is trying to hastily figure out how to respond. Why do you have to figure out how to respond before you respond? Here are the usual suspects that identify when you stopped listening. You’re not listening because you’re more concerned with:
- Not getting caught looking bad! (Image)
- Needing to be right. (Control)
- Having to justify. (Defensiveness)
- Deflecting the issue through anger (attack), circle talking (changing the subject), crying (martyr), or blaming (getting them before they get you).
When you put your image or the need to control ahead of listening – there is no chance for clear communication, and when you have to defend or deflect there is no chance for anything to be discovered or resolved. Adopting the language of true listening, or Active Listening enables you to discover the truth of any situation with the potential for resolving the issue.
When you are actively listening for truth — you will get to the heart of any matter quickly. And when you do, solutions to problems or obstacles with people, situations, and even creative challenges, are suddenly right at your fingertips.
When everyone is actively listening the environment feels freer, more creative, and fun. And when you’re having fun — you get things DONE!”
I took Nicole’s message to heart as I grappled with a person I’m having a hard time communicating with. At first she was exactly the person Nicole was describing. She was attached to being right, full of excuses, reasons, and explanations on why she did what she did. She consistently made everyone else wrong, and would persist in bringing evidence far after an event was over to continue proving she was right even when there was no relevance to the “problem”. It’s so easy to make the other person wrong!
And then I saw what I was doing.
I stopped actively listening for truth, and engaged my selective listening that this person was indeed a butthead!
I knew it wouldn’t be easy to change my mind and create an opening for actively listening to this person. Opening your mind is not easy so I played the “What if?” game. What if she was a teacher for me?
Patience came to mind.
And then a picture began to form of her as a little girl always trying to prove herself to some unknown authority as if her very existence was at stake. That picture halted my judgment just for a second, as if something was trying to emerge at the edges of my conscious awareness.
Listening took on a new meaning for me, and the practice became clear.
- Pay attention to thought patterns that produce judgmental reactions, and interrupt the reaction by just noticing that it exists within you. You may be smart but you’re not infallible.
- Look into how you can be with this person just the way they are and just the way they aren’t. How do you want them to be? Since you have no control over others, come back quickly to who you are in the matter, then change is possible. Model the behavior you’re seeking.
- Listen, actively. If they interrupt, just be silent and let them continue until finished. When complete, check for understanding on both what was said and any agreements made.
- Keep your heart open, and continue to challenge your own perceptions.
You’ll know that active listening took place when you’re complete at the end of a conversation versus wondering if anything will ever change!
I know I’ll see this person soon enough, and I’m relaxing knowing that active listening is a tool I can use. Thanks Nicole Mercolino for the intuitive coaching!
My love goes with you as you work with this Uplifting Moment