(2 minute read)
Picture the scenario.
You’re with some close friends and sharing a recollection of a great holiday you’ve recently returned from with your partner. You’re describing the amazing holiday apartment where you stayed and notice that one of your friends isn’t as engaged as the others. Then, as you are about to share how the holiday progressed, that same friend jumps in to take the opportunity to describe when they went to that same holiday hotspot and what they did while there.
Sorry, your conversation has just been hijacked!
In this – all too familiar – situation, there were a couple of factors at play. Firstly, while you really wanted to share the experience with your friends, your friend was caught up in a phenomenon referred to as autobiographical listening. This occurs when the listener is only tuning in for elements of the discussion which they can relate to. Sadly, their focus is not on how the experience was for you, but how it relates to them. Also known as egocentric listening, this behaviour can be as detrimental to friendships as it can be in the business environment.
This is in direct contrast to the friend or colleague who listens with a genuine intent to understand. Steven R. Covey, author of the iconic bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, identified this as an essential habit in successful people – ‘Seek first to understand, before being understood’.
In line with Covey’s identification of the essential nature of empathic listening, there’s a more contemporary model that’s worth considering and implementing in your personal and professional lives.
In contrast to the undesirable practice of autobiographical listening, we all can practise the art of Trampoline Listening.
This simple model uses a 3-step strategy.
- Listen – Really listen to the other person with no personal agenda, bias or filters
- Absorb – Acknowledge their points, their concerns or stories and encourage their sharing
- Lift – Focus on them leaving the conversation with more energy than when they started.
While this model is of great use to coaches, managers, and leaders, it is of equal value to friends and family members who often just want someone to listen to them.
We can all be the trampoline!