It was a tough conversation to have with my boss. I told her that I didn’t feel my talents were being used in the best way and that I had more to give, more to contribute to the team. I gave examples of how I could do more and grow my skills. She nodded her head. Smiled. Gave me some “uh-huhs” and some “mmm hmmms”. I walked away thinking change was a comin’. I was wrong.
Finding out someone was pretending to listen is disappointing, and it puts trust at risk. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Many of us have been told paraphrasing is important in communciation. We’ve been taught to put someone’s words into our words and then repeat those words back to them. The problem with this type of paraphrasing is that it is PARROTphrasing. It’s squawking someone’s words back to them without really understanding the meaning underneath the words.
So, let’s back up and address how most people communicate.
Most people use words that do not match their meaning. For example, how many times has someone asked you, “How are you doing?” and you respond, “Fine”. Are you really fine? Or did you mean:
“You don’t really care about my answer and neither do I.”
“I don’t think you care, so I why be honest?”
“It’s not really any of your business.”
“I’m too busy to chat right now.”
When we fail to dig deeper and uncover meaning, we fail to build trust. People want to be heard, and they want to be understood. And when they feel heard and understood, they trust.
Dig deeper, seek understanding of what ISN’T being said, and ensure your interpretation of their meaning is correct. It is what I call True Paraphrasing (see graphic to the right).
In the future, keep your ears open for signs that you have missed meaning. Listen for phrases like:
“THAT ISN’T WHAT I SAID.”
“THAT ISN’T WHAT I MEANT.”
“YOU’RE NOT HEARING ME.”
“MAYBE I’M NOT EXPLAINING MYSELF WELL.”
“THAT ISN’T WHAT I WANT/ASKED FOR/NEED.”
“LET ME REPEAT MYSELF.”
Once you learn how to listen to understand, you can build trust!