Identify your biases and listen attentively to improve your conversations and relationships

Instructions

  1. Think about the last three people you conversed with and become aware of your biases and assumptions
    Did you assume their response before they had a chance to speak? Can you notice any biases you have based on their race, gender, age, clothing, etc? As you get better at identifying your assumptions, you will be able to do it during the conversation itself.
  2. Choose someone to speak to, and identify your assumptions and biases about them
    Is this someone you think you know very well? Did the sight of a stranger immediately prompt you to classify them?
  3. Tell yourself, ‘What I know is different from what you know’
    This understanding is necessary for giving directions, for teaching a class, for ordinary conversations, for learning anything from anyone. Now you will be curious to hear what they will say.
  4. Respond with relevant comments during conversations
    When you respond to what the speaker says it shows that you are listening to what they are saying (their story) at this moment in time. Resist the urge to judge or to jump in with an opinion, as then they are unlikely to tell you anything meaningful. By listening carefully with curiosity you will notice new things about people you know well and discover interesting things about others. Your responses will encourage them to elaborate further.
  5. Tell yourself, “I will make a focused effort to be interested in what others are saying.”
    Interested listeners produce more interesting conversations. Listening well elicits a clearer expression of thoughts and experiences from the speaker, making conversations more pleasant for everyone involved.

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