Well, we all hear that we should be active listeners. We probably all know that we could get better at listening in general. We’ve all probably heard the things we need to do to be a better listener.

We believe you already know what you need to know mixed in with all the other stuff you know – we just need to curate that for you.

So, we’d like to offer you a list of things to STOP doing when you’re trying to become a better listener. We call them listening traps. Check yourself to see how many you fall into on a regular basis.

When is it my turn?

You can feel when you fall into this listening trap. Your body tenses up. You’re planning and polishing up your rebuttal in your mind. You’re thinking “when will this person shut up so I can lay my genius and well prepared smack down on them?”

Guess what? Likely your rebuttal is to “part” of what they’re saying and maybe not even the important part. As soon as they say something you want to refute, your brain goes to your message and doesn’t listen to them anymore. You may completely miss the actual important part of their message.

Listening with a clenched mind.

I’m guessing you know what I mean without further explanation. This is on display throughout the country in our political discourse.

It’s simply a choice you make to clench your mind. There’s a great book about this concept of refusing to accept alternative possibilities called The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (and no, the movie called Black Swan is not based on this book!).

The short story – for thousands of years, the only swans that people ever saw were white. So therefore, they “knew” there was no such thing as a black swan.

But then one appeared.

And people came up with retrospective explanations that, of course, black swans had always existed. The point is the entire populace of the planet “knew” there was no such thing as a black swan.

Until there was.

What ideas are you holding on to so tightly that you’ll be damned before you let in conflicting evidence?

Well, if I were you.

The cardinal sin of listening – offering advice when it’s not specifically asked for.

This is an easier one for us when we’re working with clients. We know that sometimes a client will solve their own problem by saying it out loud and saying possible solutions out loud. For some reason, that uses different neural pathways than thinking and it allows the solution to appear.

Look, that’s what I can share in 500 words. Test those out on yourself, and you will absolutely become a better listener by stopping those three reactions. If you want 8 more listening traps, email Mike at mikemckay@actioncoach.com with the subject “I can’t hear you because I’m not listening” and I’ll send them to you!

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