So, you’re about to have an important or difficult conversation. You have your notes, a laptop, a game plan for what you want to say. You’re mentally prepared.
But you may be missing an essential tool …
Something to drink.
No, I’m not talking about alcohol. I’m talking about a beverage … whether it’s a bottle of water, a hot tea, kombucha or your daily peppermint white chocolate mocha Frappuccino.
When someone is speaking, and you are about to respond, instead, take a sip of your drink. Why? It will make you a better listener.
Why we don’t listen
When I speak at conferences, I will ask the members of the audience if they consider themselves to be a good listener. Almost everyone says yes.
My response is … really? No … really?
The truth is most of are not great listeners. Why?
- We are so focused on our response, we forget to listen for what is being said. There isn’t space in our head to fully hear the other person when half our brain is thinking about what we are going to say next.
- We don’t give people a chance to fully share their thoughts. We constantly interrupt other people or finish their thoughts for them. (Let me know how well that works for you.)
- We don’t have the patience to wait out the other person. Rare is the human who can succinctly and completely share their thoughts in one well-formed format. When the other person pauses, wait them out. They are thinking. Something important may be coming.
Which is where your beverage comes in. When someone pauses or says, “umm”, our natural response is to jump in. Don’t. When you are about to respond, take a sip of your drink instead. This will give the other person time to gather their thoughts and continue to share.
Giving the other person time and space to fully share their thoughts gives you a HUGE advantage in the conversation. The more they feel heard and respected, the more information you gather, the more you earn their trust.
Try it. Bring a beverage to your next important conversation. Right when you are about to respond, take a sip. See if the other person continues to share. Notice what you would have missed if you hadn’t taken that drink.