Listening tends to be something we treat as secondary when we’re preparing to have a tough conversation. Instead, we pour vats of energy into rehearsing our lines.
This is what I’ll say when they say that.
This is how I’ll respond when they do that.
This is how I already know they feel about that.
But when we spend the bulk of our prep time rehearsing for what we already know is going to happen, we tend to miss what is.
Our ability to hear the actual words that are coming out of someone’s actual mouth decreases, and the likelihood that we’ll end up spending our time and energy trying to prove our that our expectations are (always) correct goes up.
Listening has the power to cut through all of that.
When we listen, we re-connect to the present moment, and can begin to peel our expectations away from the reality in front of us. We become more capable of hearing the words that are being said, picking up on nuances like uncertainty or vulnerability, and are better positioned to be responsive rather than defensive.
Listening doesn’t always seem like a big deal, but it’s more important than we think.