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Can you hear me now?

I’d love to meet the creators of Sprint’s 2016 ad campaign featuring Paul Marcarelli. Choosing Marcarelli and the catchy “Can you hear me now?” question made famous during a nine Verizon ad campaign to boost Sprint’s sales was brilliant.

While an inspired wireless marketing tagline, Sprint's question falls short for building and maintaining healthy relationships. I can hear my husband (and others) without listening. After reading the quote below once, I paused. Then read it again. The second time I wondered... how often do I settle for engaging in conversations instead of communicating heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul?

"I speak because I know my needs, I speak with hesitation because I know not yours. My words come from my life's experiences Your understanding comes from yours. Because of this, what I say, And what you hear, may not be the same. So if you will listen carefully, Not only with your ears, But with your eyes and with your heart, Maybe somehow we can communicate."

Professionally and personally, I value building authentic relationships with my coaching clients and those who participate in peer facilitator training. In each session, my first goal is to show up, stay present, listen carefully – not just with my ears, but with my eyes and heart. In doing so I hope to build trust. Doing so takes more than just being intentional, it requires continually building on and practicing listening skills.

I understand the powerful impact reflective (or empathetic) listening plays in connecting with others. By increasing both my understanding and skills, I reap the benefits of experiencing deeper relationships with family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. Surprisingly, I discover ‘showing up’ or ‘staying present’ can even impact how I interact with people I encounter here online or the normal routines in day-to-day life.

Being known, heard, understood, valued and accepted is a common human desire. With the power empathetic listening has in creating stepping stones to trust, this short youtube role play serves as an example and reminder for peer facilitators – and coaches – as well as all who long to connect at deeper levels with those we love. The role play depicts the benefits speakers can experience when listeners show up, stay present, listen with their hearts as well as their ears.

But first!

Before watching, think back to a recent conversation with a family member, friend or co-worker that left you feeling unheard… or perhaps it was the person on the other end of the conversation who left disappointed, unknown.

Like me, you are undoubtedly familiar with variations of the five steps describing reflective listening. However, I love the payback spending a few minutes reflecting provides when I'm trying to improve a skill. So after I watched the role play once, I watched again, this time pausing the video several points. I noted the benefits the ‘client’ felt by receiving active/reflective listening: “…brought up many things I want to tell you... It felt enlivening, I wanted to gush out more… there’s a sense of trust and support … she’s with me, helped me separate fact from what I’m telling myself and that helps me clarify.”

Let's talk

I enjoy engaging... and always welcome feedback, so would love to hear your thoughts, like which of these steps are the easiest, most familiar, when listening to others? Which are you most likely to forget or ignore – and if so, why? When? What would you add?

Step 1 What happened? What did you hear? (And I’d add, observe)

Step 2 Interpretation Listener reflects back what they not only heard the other say, but how they heard the listener interpret ‘what happened’

Step 3 Feelings Listener describes the feelings they ‘heard’ (as well as what they observed – body language)

Step 4 Feedback Listener provides feedback based on what she/he heard happened, interpretation and feelings.

Step 5 Feedback Listener checks in – ‘did I get that’ – did I understand (gaining clarification, gives opportunity for speaker to restate.)

And finally.. perhaps Raymond can help bring the point home with some humor?

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