How far do you go to find just the right thing to say – to encourage, suggest or chastise?

If your priority is to have the perfect words, it might make you anxious. Especially if you’re going to meet with your boss, a grieving friend, an ex-spouse or someone you haven’t seen in years.

The tension grows as you rehearse what you want to say and how you believe the other will respond. You might forget that the conversation is only in your head at this point. And as your thoughts become more heightened, your anxiety intensifies.

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” 

Ernest Hemingway

Listening, active listening, is a lost art. You’re not alone. There’s so much fear of losing control in any given situation that you want nothing left to chance.

If you’re at a loss for words with someone you care about, consider leaving your agenda behind.

  • Sit and wait for the other person to share what’s on their mind.
  • Listen for specific words, phrases or themes that come up.
  • Respond using those words, phrases or themes.

When you’re only in a conversation to reply as soon as the other stops talking, you miss what they’re saying. As you repeat the other’s words, he will know he was heard by you.

This isn’t a trick. Think about how you feel when someone is present for you. When she echoes what you’re saying you know she is right there with you. You’ve been heard.

“Friends are those rare people who ask how we are, and then wait to hear the answer.”

Ed Cunningham

Try this in your next conversation and let me know what happens.

Happy Thursday!

You’ve got this.