Today I was asked to comment on autobiographical listeners for a national magazine.
Many base input on what our own experiences have been and form responses based solely on them. When someone confides in us, do we always have to try to solve the problem or just listen with empathy?
The Bad News: Autobiographical listening is not actual listening. Some call it Combative or Competivie Listening.
When the listener isn't able to let go of their own point of view they can't receive and understand the speaker's message. True listening is letting go of your own vantage point so that you can take in the speaker's opinions, thoughts or needs.
The Good News: Listening is a natural human skill. Small,easy,fast adjustments can turn an autobiographical listener into an active listener within minutes.
As a coach to women leaders, Emmy and Grammy winning producers I give clients easy tools to become better listeners. (In October 2007 I gave a couple some listening tools on Dr. Phil's Decision House.) Great communication, healthy relationships and business success depend on active, open listening.
One of the many Mental Cues I teach to clients to become better listener is to get curious. "Play Detective" By engaging your eyes as well as your ears you can increase your listening skills.
One study at UCLA indicated that up to 93 percent of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues. Another study indicated that the impact of a performance was determined 7 percent by the words used, 38 percent by voice quality, and 55 percent by the nonverbal communication.
Advice: Don't give advise unless you are spcificlay asked for it. Empathy is a gift. Gender studies show that men listeners rush to 'fix' a problem. However, that is counter productive for a woman when communicating. Research shows that women bond and destress through simply sharing what is challenging. For a woman simply being heard is key to her health. Getting advice lessens their communcation experience dramaticly.