Four Tips to Finding a Listener


If you're the one who needs to connect with a gift listener, there are some tips to help in the search. First, PLACE yourself where gift listeners might hang out: college classrooms, civic clubs, churches . . .

In order to find good listeners for myself, I must get to know people, go where they are, and listen to their interactions. Some may already know how to give the gift of listening, others may be willing to learn with me.

You can ASK a person to give you just plain listening. Be sure to state how long (5 minutes for men, up to an hour for women), why you need it (to sound out something), and what will be the reward (I'll feel so much better).

When asking someone for the gift of listening, it helps to explain that you ask for no approval or disapproval, no yes or no, nor any judgment or advice, but only for active engagement in listening so you can sort if out for yourself.

When I ask someone to give me some listening, it works best if I stay in I-language, not only for the asking but also for the listening event. Speaking in I-language reduces barriers and helps bring clarity and honesty to almost any communication.

In finding a listener, as in becoming a better listener, NOTICING NON-VERBALS is a key factor. Notice your own sweaty palms or squeaky voice; notice the other person's leaning toward you or away. Just notice.

In communication, nonverbals include gestures, other hand or foot movements, postures, facial expressions, tone and volume of voice, speed of speech, diction, emphasis patterns, attention patterns, and even sometimes choice of venue and climate.

When asking for a gift of listening, consider offering to TAKE TURNS. A commitment by both or all parties to take turns giving the gift of listening to each other is a wonderfully energizing community builder.

Taking turns giving the gift of listening means I won't be preparing for my turn to talk while it's my turn to give listening. Therefore, I may need some silence to process and prepare at the beginning of my turn to be listened to.

A commitment among us to give the gift of listening to all on our team might cause our communication and decision-making processes to seem slow. Instead, it will enhance the accuracy and power of the resulting decisions.

Copyright 2013 Wilma Zalabak