Why our listening needs an upgrade.

There's a sense of wonderment when travelling without knowledge of the language a country you visit for the first time. If you travel without a phone or without connecting to the internet, it becomes difficult to navigate the streets, food, and local culture without patience and curiosity.

However, if you've ever understood two or three words while ordering a meal, receiving directions, or checking out of a supermarket, you'll recognize that sliver of a beautiful feeling you can get sometimes. It's the feeling of recognition, achievement, a fleeting familiarity reflected in the face of the person you're speaking with. Followed by a tiny boost of "I can do this!"

What you did was pay extreme attention to your environment, mainly because it's new, partly because it's necessary for your survival. Your listening skills were on overdrive and you were in total focus. Compare that to your trip from home to work and back. You're probably on autopilot, taking the same route home, listening to a podcast on your queue of podcasts. For all intents, you are no longer paying attention.

It so happens that our work can fall into similar patterns, offices and now zoom rooms full of people not paying attention. Would you be able to tell if your colleague put a recorded video of themselves on a company call? Probably not. Don't believe me? See this guy do it for a week without getting caught.

But wait! back to your vacation, there was one thing that made it possible for you to feel that tiny boost of "I can do this!" when you got that meal order right in French. You were being paid attention to. That conversation was facilitated by the waiter, from the moment they showed up with the menu, to the minute they walk away, a conversation was facilitated, that left you beaming with accomplishment. That same conversation, at your local diner, may not get you as excited, because, you'd be paying a lot less attention.

Why can't our interactions at work be as magical as being on vacation and ordering bread at a French bistro in Paris?

What's the difference between the French waiter and you at work? The waiter gets to practice facilitating, experimenting, listening and paying attention at every interaction.

How many times have you had the chance to facilitate a magical interaction? One that left the people in the room thinking "I can do this!"

In a few months, we’ll be hosting a facilitator’s forum to help you do just that, if you’d like to tag along, and you’re already receiving this newsletter, then you’ll continue receiving it and I thank you for taking the time to read this.

Share this article with friends or colleagues you think will appreciate picking up a few stories and tips on facilitation, hosting, or simply paying attention to people in a way that makes them feel human.


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