Do you think you are a good listener? Most of us do. Well I've been part of a couple of interactions that stood out in terms of what to be mindful of during important conversations.
Situation #1. My investment advisor has moved companies. We have had several conversations prior as to why. I am on board with his decision and have moved with him. Now comes the phone call from the branch manager of the former company. Must admit I avoided the call for awhile. When we did catch up, he introduced himself then proceeded to tell my about the multi, multi million dollar portfolios he handles (mine is chump change!!), how he makes lots of money for his clients, how he is a star in his business, how I would be his client, how I am better served by him because he makes better decisions than my previous advisor. Somewhere in there was a question about whether I had made a decision but not a breath taken so I could reply. Finally after 4 - 5 minutes I interrupted him. Yes I had to interrupt. Indicated I had made a decision and was planning on staying with my present advisor. He then launched into the 'give him a chance, come to a meeting, let me get in front of you', etc. There was really no room for me in this speech. He was so busy selling himself, he didn't check in to where I was at. No I didn't change my mind!
Situation #2. Have done volunteer coaching work with a national organization. Decided not to renew my contract. Spoke to my decision on a phone call where I provided the reasons why and made some suggestions to improve program participation. A short time later I received and email thanking me 'for my time and effort. If I had any feedback or suggestions, this organization was open to them'. Really! I thought I had. Hmm not happy with this, I called then sent a note to the woman who spearheaded this organization. Explained I had not had any feedback in 4 - 5 years and I wasn't sure my recent feedback or suggestions were heard. She got it! So forwarded the note to the acting program head. A call set up. Then it got interesting. The woman in charge did say all the very nice things one does. Then she proceeded to tell me why things were the way they were, there was a need for change for the facilitators and she hadn't gotten around to it, she had reached out (in terms of renewing the contract) and hadn't heard back from me. (I sent a note indicating I was unsure about renewing). Again not much breathing space so I just let her speak. Then she asked if I had any feedback. Not additional feedback but feedback period. So inservice of hoping to add value to people trying to do good work, I gave my thoughts for the third time.
If this sounds a bit of a diatribe, it is. In actuality a mirror was held up for me, reminding me, what it feels like to be on the receiving end of an agenda. Someone plowing through something - making considered points. Ah I recognized my 'full court press' moments! Now it's remembering to sit quietly as someone completes their thoughts, to pause before you speak, to check in and of course to breathe! Once upon a time I would have been all over this, speaking up, pushing my side of the story. Today there is a better recognition on my part of the opportunity to enter into a conversation. If not, oh well. Move on.
But oh the joy when there is!