Listening for Understanding: The Prelude to Dialogue
There are five steps to remember:
1. Clear your mind.
- Breathe deeply to relax
- Focus on the other person
2. Find a way to follow closely what the other person is saying.
Use whatever technique works for you:
- Repeat in your mind word for word what they are saying.
- Settle into your most calm feelings and let their core message sink in.
- “Try on” their ideas, setting aside your own ideas for the moment.
- Picture a cartoon bubble over their head, then another over yours – let the bubbles float side by side, nor agreeing or disagreeing.
- Take notes while they are talking if it helps you concentrate.
Note: When your mind wanders, repeat step one.
3. Summarize the whole message to yourself.
If there are different parts, list each part. If the other person wants to know if you’ve understood what they said – summarize for them what your heard.
4. Go back to your own thoughts and feelings.
Let them stay side by side with the other person’s thoughts and feelings.