Communication is as basic as the air you breathe because I don’t think you can do squat without communicating.” Judy Belk California Wellness Foundation.
Yesterday I wrote My quiet reflection lead to action, the first post in more than a year! I had no intention of writing another so soon.
But, the terrifying shooting at a Las Vegas concert sent shock waves up my spine.
Perhaps the person committing such a horrific act felt like he wasn’t heard. Maybe he felt that conversations he had were critical instead of supportive.
Then I thought about the work of Creating the Future. The organization’s focus is on a grand experiment that tests how we can bring out the best in each other, how we can create a world that works for everyone.
I participated in an online project on Catalytic Thinking. During those discussions, I rediscovered my passion for the art of active listening!
Good communication always begins with listening. As a nonprofit practitioner, there’s no better way to improve your listening skills than through active listening.
MindTools identified five key active listening techniques:
- Pay Attention. Whether it’s a donor, client or staff member, give the speaker your undivided attention. Always acknowledge her message. Don’t forget your non-verbal communication also “speaks” very loudly.
- Show that you’re Listening. Use body language to show attention. Keep your eyes focused on the speaker. Smile and nod to show that you’re attending to what is said.
- Provide Feedback. Be careful that you don’t let your personal filters and assumptions distort what is being said. Reflect on what the speaker is saying, periodically summarize her comments and ask questions to clarify.
- Defer Judgment. Allow the speaker to finish her thoughts before you interrupt. Keep an open mind and ask positive questions that support the speaker and lead to more engaging answers.
- Respond Appropriately. Active listening shows respect and understanding. You are gaining information and insights. When you respond be mindful to be positive, open and honest.
Would truly being heard have made a difference to the perpetrator of this horrific act?
We’ll never know.
postscript: Creative Solutions & Innovations is committed to empowering nonprofits to make a difference! Practicing active listening will enrich your life and all those your organization serves.