We play The Telephone Game at the start of each semester in our Listening class at Boise State. Afterward, we ask students to reflect on their assumptions about listening.
“Never played this game. You had to like really really focus on the person who is whispering and laughing, try and memorize what they said, and then whisper it to someone else who is laughing too. Impossible!!! Fun, but I blew it.”
Listening and hearing are completely different actions with separate outcomes, like chalk and cheese. Sometimes people want to be heard, sometimes they want to be listened to. How do we know? Ask them. Taking a moment to clarify expectations is an excellent step toward good listening practices and honoring the moment with the person who is speaking with you.
When someone begins talking with you today, as you feel comfortable, step out and ask them what they hope to gain from talking with you. You have the courage and it will make an empowering and positive impact.
Listen. Lead. Inspire.