It is a luxury to be really listened to, to be truly heard. Most people are not good listeners. Usually, when they appear to listen, they are actually waiting for their turn to speak. However, no one can be a good leader or an excellent communicator if they haven’t developed their listening skills.
In Toastmasters, we know that communication is a two-way process: as well as talking or delivering a message, it’s essential to listen to the other person’s response. And not only listen to respond but listen to comprehend what the other is saying. We practice this skill whenever we are listening to a speech because we have one minute to share our feedback or evaluate a fellow member with constructive and more in-depth evaluation. This is how we practice listening in our clubs.
We’ll introduce you to some of the common response styles:
Have you heard about conversation killer? The most critical element about this style is that we’re giving distracted and understated support. We are not present. Typical parent’s response but not only. Some of the factors that push us to reply this way are tiredness, boredom, or maybe we are engaged with something different. It’s a conversation killer because, without our attention, the other person feels rejected, unseen, unrecognised, and usually hurt. We all know what the consequences of this outcome are.
How about a conversation hijacker? It is the case when we are not attuned to the other person. We change the conversation to an exciting direction for us. Imagine someone comes with good news, and before we know it, instead of shining the light on the other person and their positive experience, we’re shining the light on ourselves. The other person is left upset, perhaps even a little surprised, initially confused with dimmed excitement and joy. There’s no space for the speaker to share their feelings or thoughts.
A joy thief, it’s this kind of response that we point out all of the downsides to the good news. This focus is pretty negative, right? And it’s based on fear, insecurity, worries etc. I mean, we are not swept up in the other’s excitement. This leaves the other person worried, and a gap of distrust starts to sever the connection that this person has with us. A typical response is “No way, this cannot happen” or “Have you considered this and that and another 100”. Imagine the frustration the speaker might get!
Constructive response, or joy multiplier. It’s this capability to multiply the others joy and transform it into shared joy. We are asking questions to learn more and to unpack the experience by multiplying it. The thing about being a joy multiplier is that both people feel happier and more connected.
This is the style that strengthens relationships. Being a joy multiplier, sharing the joy is the style that communicates trust, belonging, intimacy and leaves both people feeling closer.
Do any of these labels ring a bell? Do you recognise yourself in any of them?
— Written by Mina Kostova
Vice President of Public Relations