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  • Writer's pictureStephen

The Superpower Everyone Has!

In the past two weeks I have had several opportunities to be in situations where I heard people share their stories and perspectives with me. In some of those situations, the circumstances were highly stressful and rather intense. In others, they were rather simple and not too charged with deep emotions. In almost every situation, regardless of the actual topic that was being shared, I heard a pretty common phrase, "Thanks for listening!" Each person was truly grateful that someone took the time to listen.

I'm sure we have all had times when we were talking to someone and really felt like they were listening to us. There is almost something magical about that. It helps us to feel known - like we belong and are connected to someone else, which is truly powerful! I actually believe this is one of our greatest superpowers as human beings and leaders, and one we don't use often enough - the simple act of listening to another person. I also believe we are often subject to some common mistakes when we are trying to listen, so allow me to share two of those mistakes and their antidotes that I am (still) trying to learn.

Mistake: Is it my turn yet?

So much of the time when I am listening to someone, I actually stop listening part way through and start formulating my response or rebuttal. This is especially true if I am wanting to get my point across. I may not actually consciously think if it's my turn yet, but my brain is already moving on to what I want to say, rather than staying connected to hearing them all the way through.

Antidote: Tell Me More.

This little phrase helps me create a pause in my own thinking and responding. When I use it, I stay focused on making sure I hear them all the way to the end. Then I can wait for the invitation to share in return once they are finished. That invitation may not come in every situation, but it seems to come often enough I feel heard too.

Mistake: That reminds me of a time when....

Whether we realize it or not, most of us think and make meaning in our lives through stories and experiences. So of course, it is natural when someone else is telling us a story that we think of similar stories that connect to their story. But when I respond in this way, I allow the focus to shift from them back to myself, which can sometimes cause them to feel like I wasn't really listening to them.

Antidote: Thanks for sharing that.

Sometimes our greatest response to what someone is sharing with us is simple gratitude. When we just receive what they have to share and acknowledge that we are grateful to have heard it, we are communicating that we value more than just their story, we value them! It may be their story reminds us of a story from our life, and perhaps there will be an opportunity to share it, but the most important thing we can do is acknowledge with simple gratitude how thankful we are they shared their story with us.

If you were going to turn on your superpower of listening this week, which one of these mistakes would you need to watch out for in your own life? Are there situations you can see on your calendar where you want to make sure you are listening first, and waiting to respond? Who may you run into this week that might need a simple, listening ear?

Here's to using one of our greatest superpowers this week - "I hear you!"

Be Well, Stephen

Center was created to support individuals and teams so they can live from their Purposeful Center. We specialize in executive coaching and leadership development and we’d love to support you! Click on our Services page to book a free consultation.

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