Resident conversations: stepping out of our own perspective

As busy village professionals our days are filled with many different conversations from the polite ‘good mornings, lovely day’ through to more serious conversations about troubling issues or resident concerns.  

Many of these conversations will ultimately require a solution. So, it is easy when we are busy to slip automatically into solution mode, thinking we will need to be able to have the answer to every problem, or situation that arises. 

With that, we tend to fall into the habit of listening to respond or resolve.  However, often this has the reverse effect, leaving the person sharing their issue or concern feeling like they haven’t been heard.  

In my experience, effective listening is one of the most critical skills needed when managing complex conversations. 

In today’s fast paced world, people in general are craving to be heard and sometimes it is just the process of feeling heard that will be enough to resolve a concern.  

Listening Strategies

Over the years I have gathered a long line of suggestions as I strive to be a better listener; here are the obvious ones:

  • Focus and pay attention 
  • Maintaining eye contact  
  • Be present, remove distractions where possible 
  • Being conscious of body language, lean into the conversation  
  • Let the person complete their sharing before responding  
  • Reconfirm your understanding of the conversation details 

Then there are the ones I like to remind myself of when dealing with difficult conversations:

  • Know that I don’t have to have all the answers
  • Listen to understand, not to respond 
  • Ask questions to gain a more detailed explanation 
  • Listen with the pursuit of understanding  
  • Step out of your own perspective  

It is this last step that can often be the hardest.  To be able to step away and see a situation from someone else’s perspective is a real skill.  

We all develop our understanding, based on our own lived experiences and knowledge to date.  Without the willingness to listen, to understand and consider another person’s perspective, it is often very hard to reach a ‘win: win’ conclusion.   

Simon Sinek a leading public speaker and optimist with many videos on YouTube and a number of TED talks, reinforces these ideas further in his video Be The Last to Speak

Click here to view the video, which I am sure you will all resonate with.

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