Join Fred Kofman for an in-depth discussion in this video Practice listening, part of Fred Kofman on Managing Conflict.
- I'll give you a dangerous exercise. And I'll tell you after why it's dangerous. Take a person that's dear to you. And, without telling them anything just go and practice this listening. You can ask a simple question like, How was your day? Or, what's on your mind? Or, what's going on for you? And then do these four things. Listen quietly, then encourage them, summarize and validate their feelings and their thoughts.
Why is this dangerous? Let me tell you a story about something that happened in China. I was teaching the class in China with a translator. And I gave the audience this exercise to go home in the evening and do that with their spouses or their children. So the next day in the morning, the first activity was they had to report what happened. This guys stands up and says in Chinese and the translator is telling me, I have a story. And then he stands up and the translator stops because I see the guy speak in Chinese I don't know what he was saying.
He pulls up a phone and he puts a microphone next to the phone and there's Chinese happening. And then everybody bursts out laughing like crazy. And I was like oh, what happened here. So then the translator tells me what happened. And here's the translation of the conversation. The guy went home. I mean, he was in Shanghai. He was not from Shanghai, so he called his wife. So he calls his wife and in the phone it simply says, how was your day? And she starts speaking, mmm, u-hum. So you felt that, and he's doing you think, a really good job.
And then suddenly the wife stops and says, what's wrong? And that's when everybody burst out laughing. He says, nothing's wrong, why are you asking? You never listen to me, why are you listening to me? But she was like angry. He said, don't you like it? I don't know if I like it, why are you listening to me, something's wrong. And people are just rolling on the floor with laughter, because, she was very suspicious. It's like, now bringing me flowers? What have you done, I mean, there must be some reason why...
You must have done something terrible because you never, ever in your life listen to me, and now you're listening to me. So finally he confessed this was an exercise. And, anyway, that was the story. But, if you just do this exercise, you may shock people. Because very few times we get listened with such disarming openness. So, be careful, do it slowly. But try it. Just try what happens. If you go to your kid, for example.
And just say, hey how was your day at school? Or, what's on your mind. Or, tell me something that's important to you. And you just listen. I've done this exercise with parents and children. And I had this huge workshop planned, this was in Peru. I was going to do all this workshop. And I was kind of, challenging, the parents and the kids were not getting along. And then I just thought, well, I'll do this exercise. It changed the workshop. I mean, after this we couldn't do anything more because they got so deep into the conversations that they didn't want to do any other exercise.
because, real, this was with teenagers. For the first time ever, the kids felt that their parents were listening to what they said. And they just didn't want to do anything else. So, in a sense, they ruined my plans because I had all these great ideas for the workshop. But in another sense, the workshop worked. It opened the door for them to have very different conflict resolution conversation.
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