A big part of our Workshop! Workshop! lessons is that everything’s a skill, and if you practice you’ll get better. Listening is a skill. It’s an almost meditative skill. Often, we don’t think about listening as being a skill because so much of our listening has become passive listening. Passive listening is hearing the person speaking but not being actively engaged. You think about what you’re going to say next or you allow yourself to experience all the associations that your brain makes while you’re listening.
They tell you a story about their mother, and you think about your mother, which makes you think about your little brother, which makes you think about why you don’t have kids, which makes you think about your ex-boyfriend, and by time you’re done thinking about all this stuff this person’s been talking for five minutes. This happens to everyone. It’s human.
That’s why, it’s good to think of listening as a skill. That way, you can notice when these passive listening habits form. Then you can figure out how to push that stuff away and bring your focus back into listening. After listening you can start to ask questions: Why were they telling the story? What little things are you focused on? What was confusing or wasn’t clear?
Which kind of listening we do depends on how we relate to the person who’s talking. If you think about it, I think you’ll find, there’s always people that we go to who we know are good listeners. Who ask us insightful or tough questions. Who asks us questions that make us think harder about the stories that we’re telling. If you become that person you’ll be better at doing that stuff for yourself! And of course that’s one of the skills we want to foster in our Workshop! Workshop! show.
These posts adapted from the 20 minute lessons on story telling presented by Dan at the beginning of our Workshop! Workshop! show. All links are affiliate links