If you’ve been reading my communiques and blogs, you’ve seen that I give the same advice time and time again: “BE INTERESTED – NOT INTERESTING!” It takes much less effort on your part to listen to what others have to say, rather than trying to get others to listen to you.
Friend, Larry Gottsman, wrote an article for the San Antonio Express-News relating a wonderful story about a man named Curly, a car salesman. He knew how to listen to his customers and seemed to have a natural sixth sense in knowing exactly what they wanted and needed, probably more so than even the customers knew. Curly was a master at getting people to open up. He made them comfortable enough to be at ease with him. Curly was their caring friend by making the experience of buying a car a very pleasant one. Take a minute and read Larry’s article.
“That’s interesting. Tell me more.”
Such simple words and yet so powerful! Why don’t you try using these words and see what happens? I have no doubt that you will see communication barriers dissolve and relationships gel. These few words give permission to share at a deeper, more personal level. It allows you to better understand what makes people tick. This is critical when you are attempting to create or strengthen relationships.
Recently, I participated as a facilitator in a workshop. One of the participants commented afterwards that my tip, to be interested, not interesting really impacted him. He had always thought that it was wise to relate personal situations that paralleled with their stories. So often, time is an issue. You want to learn as much as you can about the other person. Eventually, it will be appropriate to share your stories, but when developing camaraderie, don’t place the focus on yourself. Maintaining an element of the unknown is always a healthier place to be. Here are a few more “Tell me more” phrases to use:
- “I can really relate to what you’re saying. Tell me more.”
- “I love the way you think. Tell me more.”
- “I’m beginning to understand. Tell me more.”
- “I absolutely agree with you. Tell me more.”
Do you get the picture?
It’s all about learning to listen powerfully. It may even require that you change some habits. These five very simple tips will definitely help you to become a powerful listener.
- Be in the moment and be totally focused on the person you are listening to.
- Do not think about what you are going to say.
- Be totally open to the person and what he/she is saying.
- Be aware of the person’s body language.
- Listen for how the person says things as well as what he/she says.
What will being a good listener get you? Go back to Larry Gottsman’s story about Curly and find out!
My feature this month is from Kay Peck, CEO of Kindred Hospital San Antonio, transitional care hospital providing long-term acute care to medically complex patients. When I mentioned to Kay what my power was this month, she told me how important listening is in their business and shared with me the message she imparts to her employees, which I share with you.
“Listening is the most critically important thing we do as healthcare providers. We not only treat our patients but their families as well. I always tell my staff how important it is to ‘know’ their patients. Listen to the families about how they lived their life before illness or accident occurred. Always listen to families; they know the patients better than we do. Listening is a way of communicating. It’s important in all communication to ensure the recipient of the message really heard what was said so they can take appropriate action for the patients. It takes 7 times to tell someone something before it’s hard wired as a habit. Completing the communication loop is critical in everything we do. Many patients and families are so frustrated with the healthcare system they need someone to listen and help them navigate through it to understand the complex language, terminology and the government regulations as well as criteria for different levels of care to make informed decisions about the getting the best care for their loved ones. Sometimes a listening ear and a comforting touch can do much to make a patient want to get well. I love listening to patients talk about their families, the work they do, their pets and other motivational topics that make them want to get well and remember all they have waiting for them when they get well.”
AMEN, and thank you, Kay!