When you are in conversation with someone how curious are you about what they are saying? How frequently do questions pop into your head – you know that little voice in your head – how often does it take you to places where you wonder what is behind what the other person is saying, how their perspective may be different from yours?
We know that women leaders lead really busy, complex lives where we move from one thing to another, to another, all the time thinking about what we need to do next – finish a report in time to leave early to pick up our son from soccer practice, decide what to have for dinner, pick up dry cleaning etc etc. There is a lot to think about as we listen to the conversation in our own head about our ‘to do’ list and then someone talks to us and we need to try to understand them as well. We have not even mentioned phones which can be so demanding. This is HARD!!!
So what would it be like to dim the voice in our head and try to really listen to the other person AND be curious about what they are saying? Instead of sort of hearing what they say and jumping to our own conclusions, including judging them and ourselves, what would it be like to just listen, be curious and ask a question that will allow them to talk more about what you are curious about and ensure you gain clarity and really understand the perspective they are putting forward? What would it be like, if in conversation we always set intention around seeing the person, really hearing what they are saying and being curious so we can fully appreciate their ideas, their perspective?
We think this would be awesome. Instead of sort of listening and jumping to our own conclusions, we could become open to the perspectives of others and with this openness shed our judging so we could seek out possibilities which could lead to opportunities, even innovation. Think of the time you could save if you did not have to deal with misunderstanding, confusion and rumors circulating from judging, not to mention the respect you would be messaging to others.
So how can we do this? We believe one of the best ways to gain this clarity that minimizes misunderstandings begins with curiosity. In conversation we suggest FOR:
- Focus: Dim the chatter in our heads – it will always be there. Instead, really focus on what the other person is saying. If we are concerned we will forget something that has popped up in our head chatter, ask for a minute to write it down or tap a message to yourself to remind you later.
- Open: when we are open to really listening to what the person is saying to us, we are able to be curious, seeking to understand what they are saying. Asking open questions (begin with who, what, where, when, how and why) expands the conversation allowing for possibility. Perhaps their perspective is different from your – asking open questions allows you the opportunity to understand how your perspective fits with theirs and you can even ask them how they think theirs fits with yours.
- Response: Once you have asked enough questions so you are satisfied that you understand their perspective and how it fits with yours, you are in a place where you can respond, share your perspective with them in a way that gives context to yours in comparison with theirs. This can lead to mutual understanding from which collaboration can be built in a way that maximize shared ideas moving forward in a non judging and non blaming way.
We invite you to set intention around trying ‘FOR’ in at least 4 conversations over the next few days and then to reflect on this intention. What did you notice? What were your challenges? How can you use FOR moving forward?
P.S – It’s HAPPENING! Discover 3 Massive Mistakes Most Professional Women Make HERE