A month focused on replacing any habit has challenges. Many of us have personal experience with a food diet, and know it can have many opportunities to go wrong. Routines, grocery shopping habits, work lunch options, the office birthday cakes, and the friends’ happy hours are things that can block our path to healthier eating diets. Our own doubts, rationales, and distractions can also get in the way. These are all example blocks to replacing unhealthy eating habits with healthy ones – and it’s similar to the many blocks that can get in the way of good listening.
Earlier, the Listening Diet challenged you to pay attention to your mind chatter and identify your own common listening blocks. What blocks your listening at work, with clients, or with colleagues? How about with friends or family? What are the circumstances, assumptions, environmental stimuli, time constraints, or conversation formats that keep good listening from happening? Just like we’re consistently confronted with opportunities to step off the path to a food diet, there is an endless barrage of things that challenge our focus on good listening.
So, how do we deal with all the many Listening Blocks in front of us? Perhaps we could have a plan for each block, but that seems impractical. When you’re hungry, do this. When you’re bored, do that. When the speaker is racist or offensive, do this. When you’re too busy, do this. Do this for this, and that for that. Rather than offering 150 different listening techniques, here is a 4-step strategy for overcoming listening blocks:
HARP on Listening
- Hear Your Mind Chatter
- Acknowledge a Listening Block
- Remember Possibilities of Listening
- Practice Listening Anyway
HARP on your listening. The definition of harp (the verb, not the instrument) seems fitting: “talk or write persistently and tediously on a particular topic.” Focusing on listening, let’s replace “talk or write” with, well, listening!
HARP on Your Listening: Example
So, in practice, to HARP on our listening might go something like this:
Circumstance: local politician you don’t agree with is speaking about a stance you don’t agree with.
H = Hearing your mind chatter might reveal thoughts like, “WRONG! He’s so wrong. He’s not thinking about THIS and THAT. How can anyone VOTE for this guy?”
A = Acknowledging a listening block might cause a thought like, “Well, that doesn’t sound like listening. I have a listening block.”
R = Remembering the possibilities of listening might lead to a choice, by telling ourselves, “OK, I realize I have a listening block but I know there might be something I can gain out of really tuning in to his words. So, let me listen anyway.”
P = Practicing listening anyway then means tuning in, keeping attention on the speaker and content despite the current disagreement.
Of course, this may be easier said than done in certain circumstances. The rest of The Listening Diet (and my one-on-one listening coaching) focuses in much greater detail on all these points, especially ways to listen anyway.
Thanks for listening! What do you think? Try it and leave some thoughts in the comments – I’d love to hear them!
The download for today’s Listening Diet Challenge is a PDF with the HARP on Listening Strategy. Remember, those enrolled will get all 31 worksheets, resources, and practice assignments for just $1/day!
Enroll in The Listening Diet Challenge!
And, members of The Listening Corps already have all of this information available to them when they enroll into that international leadership development network. The Listening Corps focuses on just on listening skills but also on leadership and facilitation skills. Find out more at ListeningCorps.com.
Preview for Tomorrow
In Day 9, we will cover the most important way to speak to let the speaker know you are listening.
Thanks for listening!