As we have discussed in part 1,
Ego is the enemy
Ego is the obstacle to having a great listening session
Your partner is lost
Your partner won't feel comfortable to open up to you
You must eliminate ego if you want to connect with your partner or loved ones better
What can you do
It's simple, all you have to do is to eliminate ego
Easier said than done
We are all susceptible to have ego get in the way, even great listeners occasionally inject ego in the conversation when not careful
Here are the 4 common tactics that you can use to help eliminate the almighty ego from your conversations to connect with your partner better
- Avoid using the word "I" or "My"
- Make sure listenee is doing 80% of the talking
- Don't take it personally
- Be selfless
1. Avoid using the word "I" or "My"
One of the easiest way to know whether your ego has been injecting into the conversation is to track the number of times you used the word "I" or "My"
"I think you should do this"
"This is my thought"
"I believe that ..."
All of these are steering the ultimate goal of listening off course
The goal of listening is to make sure that the listenee's voice is hard, not yours
When you add the word "I" in the conversation, on a deeper level, this is you wanting your voice to be heard, you want them to understand where you are coming from
Listenee may think it's nice to know if you do it the first time.
If you keep on doing this several times, you will notice the listenee gets a bit more worked up and things will turn into a debate rather than a therapy
Every time when you talk about yourself, the focus will become less of the listenee, and more about you.
In the end, if you ever ask yourself "what went wrong?"
The first thing you can look for is whether you talked about yourself
You always talk about yourself whenever you use the word "I", "My", and so on.
Be aware of your ego, it will always be there and you are not aware, it will ruin the conversation
2. Make sure listenee is doing 80% of the talking
This is an obvious one but greatly overlooked. It happens a lot more often than you can ever imagine
If you are not aware if your own ego, you cannot help but to keep on talking about yourself
Listening conversation is not 50-50 between two person. 50-50 is an equal exchange in ideas and thoughts.
Listening is 80-20. 80% of listenee talking and sharing while 20% of you facilitating and encouraging her to share more
If you catch yourself continually talking about yourself for more than 4 sentences, something's wrong.
Chances are, you are the one being listened to instead of being the listener.
When that happens, you need to learn to change the focus of the conversation back to the listenee.
3. Don't take it personally
If your ego is present, you have the need to keep up with your reputation and image.
Whenever someone makes a comment about you that damages your image or reputation, you feel attacked and have the need to defend yourself
Take the following dialogue as an example:
Girlfriend: "I am not happy today"
Boyfriend: "What? Why are you not happy?"
Girlfriend: "Because I saw you texting your best friend lately. You even talked a lot to her on the phone"
Boyfriend: "She's just a friend to me and we had a lot to catch up on"
In this case the girlfriend started the conversation and she wanted you to hear her out about her dissatisfaction of your behavior.
Boyfriend's ego got in the way when girlfriend told him he's been talking to his female best friend a lot.
He immediately defended himself by telling girlfriend that his best friend is just a friend.
He took his girlfriend's comment personally
All his girlfriend wanted to do was to hear her out, let her voice be heard.
He interrupted her with his ego because he took what she said personally
This may not seem much, but it has a snowball effect later down the road
The consequence of this is huge
If this happens repeatedly, she girlfriend will not feel comfortable sharing more about herself because he will just brush it off as if it's nothing
There will be a very high chance that the boyfriend will hear the "I feel like you don't accept me for who I am" speech from girlfriend
So don't take it personally, remove your ego
Ask to understand more
4. Be selfless
When listening to others, the conversation is never about you
Remember this well when listening to others:
Your thoughts and opinions do not matter
When you have ego, you are not selfless
You think your thoughts and opinion matters
Does it really? (Hope you think deeply about question)
In the conversation, there's only room for 1 person to talk, 1 focus
If your thoughts and opinions are in the room, there's no space for listenee to add his/her thoughts and opinion
Yes you may say that person is welcome to add and chime in at anytime, however that is not the focus here
You are here to make space for listenee to share. You are not here to have that person butt in, or even wait for you to finish then share his/her opinion
This will become a 50-50 conversation instead of 80-20. (#2)
Some common objections from your ego are:
"What if you want to them to understand you in return?"
What if they don't want to understand you in return?
"Do you tell them how you feel after you finished listening?"
Does what you feel really matter in understanding others?
The answer is NO
All these objections are your ego saying "hey I want my voice to be heard too"
This is selfish, not selfless
We humans are all selfish creatures
When you listen to someone, you are allowing them to be selfish and express themselves and opinions freely
This is one reason why listening is therapeutic and relaxing to listenee
If there are two selfish people in the conversation, it cannot work
One has to be selfless while others being selfish
The bigger your pride, the harder it is for you to swallow and acknowledge the fact that your opinion does not matter in another person's mind
Be selfless, forget about yourself completely
You are here to understand other, not asking other to understand you