73 listenI’ve been inviting you to consider how you listen…and to what you listen most often. I assert that, without intentional discipline, you’re listening to your internal dialog—the voice inside your head—and not to the one you’re with.

I call that voice “The Competitor because it so adequately describes the challenge you face as a listener: your internal dialog is competing for your attention with the person you think you’re listening to. The Competitor takes many roles: analyst, protagonist, antagonist, and defense attorney, to name a few.

All your life, you’ve been training yourself in the ways The Competitor functions…and to the degree that you indulge The Competitor.

Because you’re human, you have “hot button” topics that always activate The Competitor.

Money.

Injustice.

Your worth.

A secret you labor to keep hidden…

73 angerOr, strong emotions—anger, blame, rage, judgment, fear, grief—directed at you may be what provokes The Competitor into action.

Soon as these topics or emotions arise you stop listening to anything but The Competitor.

The only way out is to strong-arm The Competitor into submission.

Once you’ve interrupted your internal dialog, it’s essential to tell on yourself: explain that you distracted yourself and missed the last several sentences. What that person has to say is important to you. Ask her to back up and go again.

This time, rivet your attention on every word, as best you can. Make yourself hear what she’s saying. Each time The Competitor gets in the way, interrupt it. Tell on yourself. Ask the person to go again. 73 cementCement your focus on her words.

It’s tempting to pretend you’ve been following the conversation all along. But, you’ve missed essential information. Maybe a lot of it.

Pretending you’ve heard what you haven’t introduces deception that breeds misunderstanding. This produces distance and isolation you don’t want.

Do you?

So, slow and clumsy as this process is, it keeps you both in one conversation, not several. Admitting that you’ve not been listening and that you want to actually honors the one you’re with.

Difficult as it is, you want to get this right.

You really, really want to hear her.

Because you care. 

Don’t you?

 

 

Coaching distinctions #73.doc