Seven Behaviors to Avoid for Better Listening

If I have chosen to give listening (quiet presence, calm connection, non-anxious non-withdrawal, available eyes, mere listening, no-agenda listening, silent listening), then there are seven behaviors I will avoid as hindrances to this gift listening.

Some of the rules for gift listening are common sense. Like the one that the first behavior to avoid is interrupting the speaker's train of thought. Don't interrupt with another story or solution, and not even with a question. Don't interrupt.

Though some families and teams may thrive by talking all over each other, if the focus is on listening, on giving one of the deepest healing gifts possible, then common sense would suggest, Don't talk while another is talking.

Giving unrequested advice is not only useless like planting seeds on pavement, it also discourages the other from the hope of receiving the gift of listening at this source. For better listening in family or team, Don't give advice.

When a person shares something deep, the first impulse is often toward some sort of quick fix (Don't cry, Be strong, I'll take care of it, . . .), but usually the strongest and most lasting fix is the slow one of listening. Don't quick fix.

In a gift listening exchange the speaker can go deep, and further questions interrupt that deep train of thought. First examine well the question's purpose and if you decide to use it, then do stop and listen to the answer. Don't ask many questions.

Someone who is receiving the benefit of gift listening requires no prompting to speak. The very listening is the invitation to talk. Prompting may interrupt, mislead, entrap, or at the least, produce caution against these. Don't add prompts.

Even if he or she knows for sure what the speaker wants to say, the gift listener refrains from saying it, even silently to self. If the listener formulates the completion of the other's thought, it's not gift listening. Don't speak for another.

Copyright 2013 Wilma Zalabak