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The #1 Listening Tool to Have People Trust You

Listening is one of the greatest gift you can give someone. We all want our voice to matter. We all want to be heard. 

One of the reasons I started leading women’s circles is because I wanted to create a safe place for women to be heard, and what I learned is that most women have never actually had someone truly listen to them before.

Think about it: how many times have you shared something with a friend, family member or colleague and they either give you advice or tell you about themselves as their response?

In Sistership Circles, we have a ritual called Beaming where we hold up our hands after someone shares. We do not give feedback. We do not tell her our own stories. We simply acknowledge her share with the palms of our hands.

It’s a powerful practice and has women feel like what they said had value and was received.

There is another tool that I use when listening that develops trust. It can be used when you are facilitating circle, in a one on one conversation with a loved one, at work or even with a stranger.

It’s called the Recreation Tool and it shows someone that you really heard her.

It’s simple and yet not easy to do. Most of the time, we want to share our own experience, a story that relates to what the other person shared. Or we want to give advice, fix, coach or commiserate.

Instead, Recreation is about empty your mind completely of anything you want to say in response so you can fully receive each word. And then “recreating” exactly what she said … word for word if possible.

It goes like this:

Jane: My husband came home late and I was trying to cook dinner while holding a crying baby and a toddler pulling on my pants.

You: What I heard you say is that your husband was running late and you were trying to do get dinner ready while your baby was crying and your toddler was pulling on your pants. Did I get that right?

Jane: Yes! It was awful. I was so frustrated and exhausted and blew up on him when he walked in the door.

You: You were so frustrated and exhausted that you blew up on him when he came home. What else?

Jane: All I asked was that he came home at 5. I don’t understand why he can’t just honor my request …

You: You wanted him home and 5 and you can’t understand why he couldn’t respect your request … what else?

Etc. etc.

The key to recreation is getting into the other person’s world by repeating back what they say and creating space for them to share by asking “what else?”

Rarely do we need advice. We never need to be fixed. What we do need is a safe place to share and “empty the basket” as Allison Armstrong calls it. We need to be able to get it all out so it no longer consumes us. As soon as we discharge the energy by sharing, we feel better, we can see the situation more clearly, and we come to our own answers.

This is the power of circle. This is also the power of listening.


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