Relentlessly Relating: How to Know if You Are Really Listening
Every relationship we encounter, both in business and in our personal lives is based on our ability to relate to one another. Relating requires listening – and not just listening to see where you can interject – but listening to learn.
When applied to our relationships with vendors, clients, and each other, relentless relating shapes every interaction and forms the foundation of every agreement. It is predicated on the belief that no two people see any situation in precisely the same way.
On a physical level, our senses vary slightly from person to person. On an intellectual and emotional level, we each filter the situations we encounter through our experiences.
Some may think that a salesperson with a quick and simple pitch is rude while another finds the approach efficient. The key is knowing and accepting that we never truly understand someone else’s point-of-view.
Perhaps the best example of this is among new mothers. While every new mother has a unique experience, there is no one she feels better understood by than another new mother.
Each is unsure in her new role yet fiercely dedicated to getting it right. She is clouded by a lack of sleep, a slew of hormones, and the emotionally-charged questions swirling in her mind to which only another new mother, someone experiencing the same thing at the same time (not someone who has already come through the other side) can begin to relate.
One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. – (Click to Tweet)
How to Listen to Relate
In business conversations, we often listen to get our own questions answered instead of listening for more questions.
Listening to relate requires you to listen for the question that you did not know you were going to ask. You must set aside your own questions, resist imposing your own view and listen to the other person as carefully as possible.
The goal is to try to get as close to their experience as possible without layering your own experiences on top – to put aside your version of the truth, accept their version as truth, and begin the conversation from there.
Too often, we see entire sales pitches, products, and even companies built around a specific pain point. Only to realize (when it is too late) that we missed the mark.
How do you know if you are listening?
You will know that you have truly made the other person feel heard (and thus, truly listened) when he or she begins to ask you what you think about the situation. Sharing your position fully is exhausting, and when you reach that point, you are ready for feedback on what you have just shared.
How do you know if you are being heard?
You will know that you have been heard if your listener only asks questions that have been uncovered in the conversation, nothing scripted or pre-planned. When you have truly shared your experience, you want to know what your listener thinks and will be eager to hear his or her version of the experience.
Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk. – (Click to Tweet)
Creating a Team of Relentless Relators
We know that unless we actively strive to understand our clients, our vendors, and each other, we miss out on the opportunities that can only come through acknowledging the experiences of others.
That is why we operate in a way that demands true listening and relating.
We do not have scripts or even use long, heavily detailed slide presentations. Why? Each assumes that we understand the listener’s story before it has been told – each is inauthentic.
Instead, we listen to discover the questions we are going to ask. We strive to share their world experience and look to uncover what we do not know instead stating what we know.
We leave our own truth behind and even listen with the belief that the other’s experience is the only authentic truth and that our own experience is untrue.
This way of deeply relating allows us to listen to discover and create agreement. True agreements present as opportunities and are only formed after listening and relating.
Agreements are based on fundamental truths which means that we do not have to strategize in different areas to meet the needs of the listener. Instead, we each know what needs to happen and are eager to jump at the opportunity.
If the agreement does not appear as an opportunity, one of two things has happened:
- We have not related.
- The vendor/client/co-worker does not need what we are proposing
I discuss the importance of creating agreements in another post, which you can find here.
Cultivating an environment in which relentless relating is the norm is purposeful. Most individuals, especially in a business environment, are trained to present their own ideas instead of to listen for and address the ideas of others. This fundamental switch in the way we communicate eliminates so many frustrations and miscommunications. Relentless relating is essential to the way we operate at Arch Technologies and allows the space to develop deep relationships with our clients.