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July 2008    Supportive Listening™   Newsletter
The Listening Lab
w/ Paul

There is a big challenge regarding the value of listening.

It is invisible. Although we’ve all benefited at some point from great listening, it's difficult to measure the benefits and the process in specific terms.

As a result listening is often undervalued. There are many groups such as Toastmasters, for developing speaking ability, but how many for listening? Very few. Listening doesn't have the same draw—at least not yet.

But what if we better understood the tangible benefits of good listening, for both the speaker and the listener?

I have an idea to create clear measures of listening by which people who are training to be great listeners could measure their progress. These could be physiological, they could be numerical, or they could something totally different.

But whatever it is, as a listener, it would be very helpful to have a benchmark. I'd have an extra motivation to develop my skills, measure my progress, and feel that my efforts to listen well are paying off with real benefits.

What do you think? How would you measure great listening? Visit the online forum and share your thoughts.

— Paul

New Online Listening Forum

For quite some time we've wanted to create a place online for people to talk about listening. And it's arrived! In the spirit of experimentation we've created the Supportive Listening Online Forum.

You can connect with a community of Supportive Listeners to discuss experiences, share questions and ideas, and support each other.

Please help us get it going by visiting the forum and posting something - whether it's a new topic or a reply to an ongoing discussion. This forum is for you!

And to launch the forum, we'll be raffling off a prize—15 minutes of Supportive Listening. Amazing! To qualify, just post something to the forum in July. We'll announce the winner in next month's newsletter.

Good luck and thanks again for your support.

Best regards,

- Paul and Eran


Listening Tips w/ Eran

Supportive Disagreement may sound like an oxymoron at first, until we remember that disagreeing doesn't have to be a mortal combat.

When I disagree with someone, it's fun to take a step back and try to WIG the other person's position every once in a while, just to see if I even understand what we're disagreeing about. Interesting things happen.

I was talking with a friend a few days ago about a topic that wasn't very high-stakes for me, but really quite relevant for her (it was one of those "how should the world be" discussions - but she's a lawyer working as a legal advocate and lobbyist, and actually has some influence over laws that get passed).

Somehow, we found ourselves having a "yes, but" conversation. A very friendly disagreement, but I could sense that I was becoming entrenched, and it was getting hard to agree or even find the points of agreement.

I relaxed. I reminded myself of the usual things (I don't have to convince her in order to feel that I'm right; I may not be right, even if I feel that I am; there's no rush in arriving at an agreement about this), and then did a WIG on a few of the things she said.

The effect was subtle, but profound. When I finished the WIG, she said "Yes, that's exactly it," and I leaned back to think for a while. I realized I agreed with some of what I just said, and became clearer about why I didn't agree with other parts of it.

When I explained this to her, she was able to hear it differently, knowing that I had really listened to her and considered her position. The tone of the conversation (which was friendly to begin with, but started acquiring that edge) became much more comfortable and friendly.

This is hard to do when the stakes are high (for example, when having an argument with a loved one), but it's always worth trying. I have yet to see something negative come out of trying to understand what the other person is saying - even if I disagree.

So next time you find yourself disagreeing with someone and you feel that you're both becoming entrenched, go ahead, WIG a little. Who knows, good things may happen.

— Eran

A Workshop for your Group

Do you know a group or community that could benefit from Supportive Listening? If so, let us know.

We can come work with you to tailor a workshop for your group's unique needs.

Questions? Email Paul or see the FAQ for organizers.

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