On Non-Defensive Listening
These are all aspects of defensive listening. This is the listening that involves argumentation. This is the listening that involves a lack of focus on the other party. This is the listening that involves pushing your “I’m right” on someone who doesn’t believe, want to hear about, or care about your “I’m right.” They believe in their own “I’m right.”
All of the aspects on defensive listening are most often cued to others, not through speaking (although vocal inflections, tones, and word usage do play a part) but instead through the nonverbal communication of body language, facial expression, and onomatopoeia (sounds that when written convert to imagery (and sounds) in our minds).
Non-defensive listening is about the opposite of all of this. Non-defensive listening — above all else, even above non-defensive responding — is about focusing on the other person’s communication in order to understand, get clarity, and respond, rather than react, appropriately.
Without all the stonewalling.
To effectively engage with non-defensive listening, there are three things to do right away:
Focus on what the other person is saying, doing, and communicating in an interaction. Fear modulation is huge in this area.
Engage with a response that will address what the other person actually communicated, rather than what you think they communicated, what you think they meant to communicate, or even what you wanted them to communicate.
Be silent as a way to cause separation in your own head for thoughts to come to your mind clearly. This is practicing silence as a form of mindfulness, rather than using silence as a method of escape from the conversation, or interaction.
Above all else, being intentional — as if you were a brand advertising a car in Times Square — is the number one way to engage effectively with non-defensive listening.
Otherwise, there’s going to continue to be a lot of “coulda,” “woulda,” “shoulda” in your communication.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org