Great book by a successful TED speaker who outlines it is important to listen as well as speak, and that most people want to speak and not listen. The learning points I found most helpful to summarise were mainly focused on listening.
Regarding your inner voice, remember you are the one who’s listening (not the voice)! The voice you hear is not all of you; it’s a part of you that may have got hurt once, or has learned to fear or be cautious about something. Think of your inner voice as a voice reporting to you, you are the king / queen and remember you can ignore it.
How to retrain your inner voice, manage it with three responses
1 That’s interesting!
2. If not true, kind, helpful then ignore it
3. Over time transform your self-talk
Take some time to write down the things you hear most from your inner voice. Some may be positive; many are probably negative. Many of them might be in the first person, like “I’m so useless!”
If your voice uses the first person (I this, I that), translate everything into the second person. Research shows that positive self-talk using the word ‘you’ or even the third person, using your name, is more effective. This is possibly because it makes you feel that someone else is talking.
Men (not all men, not all the time) tend to listen from a ‘reductive’ position, this seeks a point, a solution or a destination for the conversation. Women (not all women, not all the time) tend to listen from an ‘expansive’ position, this focuses on the journey itself, being with the other person, sharing and validating feelings, smelling the roses, with little or no concern for where the road eventually leads.
Below is a checklist for empathic listening (credited to Professor Pickering):
1. Attending, acknowledging: providing verbal or non-verbal awareness of the other, i.e. eye contact.
2. Restating, paraphrasing: responding to person’s basic verbal message.
3. Reflecting: reflecting feelings, experiences, or content that has been heard or perceived through cues.
4. Interpreting: offering a tentative interpretation about the other’s feelings, desires, or meanings.
5. Summarising, synthesising: bringing together in some way feelings and experiences; providing a focus.
6. Probing: questioning in a supportive way that requests more information or that attempts to clear up confusions.
7. Giving feedback: sharing perceptions of the other’s ideas or feelings; disclosing relevant personal information.
8. Supporting: showing warmth and caring in one’s own individual way.
9. Checking perceptions: finding out if interpretations and perceptions are valid and accurate.
10.Being quiet: giving the other time to think as well as to talk. Empathic listening builds intimacy, trust and loyalty, but it also does involve some risk and vulnerability on both sides. It’s very powerful, but as with all the listening positions, the trick is to judge when to use it and not to get stuck in it.