Why Watching Freaky Friday Will Improve Your Performance Conversation

If you haven’t had a chance to watch the movie “Freaky Friday” with Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis, I recommend you do. It is a fun example of what can happen when we don’t and then do “listen to connect”. In this movie mother and teenage daughter are locked in a daily battles. They swap bodies and have to walk in each other’s shoes.

Once they understood with insight and appreciation what it was like to be the other person, the magic was reversed. The characters were then allowed to return to their own bodies. They had a newfound appreciation and respect for each other’s decisions and lives.

Listening to connect in the workplace is similar and much less complicated. All you need to do is to listen with non-judgemental ears and heart and ask genuinely curious questions. Simple, isn’t it? Let’s explore further….

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey,

Listening To Connect (Not Judge or Reject)

Can you think back to a time…?

  1. When you listened to someone so completely that it was as if you were totally in their world?
  2. Where you listened and never thought once about your own point of view of what they were saying was?
  3. When you were listening and became aware that you had stopped listening? Where you found yourself going into your own head and thoughts?

I will bet that you could count on one hand the number of times you could answer a truthful “yes” to any of these questions. It doesn’t mean you are a bad listener or that deep down you don’t care. There are scientific reasons for our less than perfect listening behaviour.

From an evolutionary perspective, we are hardwired to look out for our own well-being. This means we need to judge! Listening to judge is our default, a fundamental part of being human. It is not something we do with conscious intention.

Can you remember the last time you were called in for your annual performance review meeting? As you were listening to the feedback, can you recall what was racing through your head? What were you thinking before, during and after the meeting? What did you pay more attention to, what was being said inside or outside of your head?

When we engage with someone, we are listening out for:

  • Where we agree,
  • Where we disagree
  • What we think we should say in response.

We are instinctively seeking answers to the following:

  • Do I need to protect myself?
  • Am I being included or excluded?
  • Am I being valued and appreciated?”
  • Do I need to defend myself?
  • Do I need to attack this person?
  • Is it safe to relax, open up and share?

Based on our answers to these questions, we create a theory of what we think they are saying. We are considering what it means and what they want to happen. We may not have actually heard them say it, but we can become pretty certain we think we know what they need and want.

This neuroscientific theory means we listen to a conversation looking for evidence to confirm what we already think we know!  Whichever way you look at it, crazy as it sounds, we try to listen to others with a focus primarily on ourselves.

What is Listening to Connect?

Until I started learning about Judith E Glassers’ concept of C-IQ, I thought I was a good listener. I thought I didn’t need to learn more. But I now understand that listening to connect does not come naturally. It is something that needs to be learned and practised daily.

Listening to Connect is to listen to support and elevate another human being. It is a way of listening to the other person where the spotlight moves completely on to them. It is about finding out what it is like to be them from a place of “not knowing”, non-judgement and genuine curiosity. This completely goes against the way we are hardwired!

Listening to Connect means listening with an awareness of what is going on in our own minds. It is about being intentional in our attempt to see the world from the other person’s perspective, not ours. We put ourselves in their shoes. We tune into their wavelength. We listen for their frame of reference, not our own. We listen not just to what is being said, but also to what is not being said. We listen to more than the words and also the meaning behind the words. We seek to discover the persons’ underlying thoughts, feelings, needs and wants.

How Do I Listen To Connect?

1. Start with Yourself

If you want to be great at Listening to Connect, you must first turn your attention to yourself. You need to notice your own physiology and listen to the thoughts that fill your own mind and heart.

The next step is to clear this mind clutter. This creates the mental and emotional space to really hear what others are saying.

Take a few moments to quiet your mind so that you can notice what is going on in and around you before you engage. By being aware of these thoughts and emotions, you are more able to let them go. Then you can turn your attention to observing instead of thinking.

Only now are you ready to begin Listening to Connect!

2. Observe and Listen with Your Ears, Your Eyes and Your Heart 

Start with curiosity. Seek to discover what is unique and interesting about this human being. Listen to their words, watch their face and body and feel the energy they are holding.

Learn to notice the subtle cues and any unusual eye movements. Is there a little sigh or evidence of a fleeting thought or moment of awareness? Stop and ask them, what just happened? You will be amazed at what you discover.

Betty Berzon sums up Listening to Connect beautifully…..

“I care about who you are, who you have been, who you want to be. I open myself to you to listen and learn about you. I cherish you, not just my fantasy of who you are, not just who I need you to be, but who you really are…”

Why Do It?

Listening to connect costs us nothing. It does take time and effort to practice, master and embody it. This investment in your skills will revolutionise your working relationships. Once you have mastered it, it becomes a natural part of the way you choose to listen.

Let’s return to our earlier example of a performance appraisal. Imagine if you truly understood what was being said. Consider how that could help you build your personal development plan. Imagine what that could do for the performance year ahead. You would be clear on goals and development requirements. All set to go on to kick goals and significantly contribute to your organisation.

Life changing moments happen when people listen to connect. I wonder what Listening to Connect could do for you and your team? If you want to learn more, or to find out how it can help you build high performing teams, reach out.

Hi there! I’m Jacqui Snider and I’m here to help you and your business grow and flourish.

As an Occupational Therapist and Workplace Culture Coach and Trainer, I am passionate about helping individuals and organisations develop better home and workplace practices that everyone enjoys being part of. With more than 35 years of coaching experience, I have personally coached and trained in excess of 350 leaders, bringing about transformational change in both individuals and teams.

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