Worthwhile Listening

Community Respect Project

The lazy hazy days of summer can provide a more relaxed setting to have a worthwhile listening experience. Consider a visit with a family member, friend or reasonably good acquain- tance. Then switch gears — initiate a conversation with someone you don’t know well. There are insights plus questions for both conversations.

With someone you know

Find a friend, grab a cold drink, get two comfortable chairs, turn off your cell phone and prepare to have a meaningful conversation.
If your friend, family member or colleague is not available, you can have this conversation with yourself. Talking to yourself has its benefits. You talk to someone intelligent and you get to listen to an intelligent person. However, listening and talking to some- one else IS better, most of the time.

70% to 80% of our waking hours are spent in some form of communication.
Studies show:
9% of the time is spent in writing
16% of the time is spent in reading
30% of the time is spent in speaking
45% of the time is spent in listening
The majority of people score lowest on Listening.

Here are the some thought provoking questions for a summer chat or two (or maybe three):

  • Tell Me Your Story Where did you grow up?

The different places you have lived (Locales-Insights-Reactions) 
Talk about your childhood years, the teenage experience, being a young adult, the NOW part
What are some of the jobs you have had and/or currently have?

Occupation and volunteerism

What are your skills-how did you develop them? What skill(s) would you like to develop? 
Introduce me to a close friend. What makes them special – what keeps your friendship strong? 
How do you relax? What is “your kind of entertainment?” How do you “refill your tank?” 
Tell about your family: parents, siblings (where you fit), family member(s) you are close to. 
What events, people and circum- stances in your past influences how you think today?
What is a life lesson that you have or are currently learning in life’s classroom?

  • Things Learned During Covid 19 

Covid was hard for everyone. It has caused most of us to be at least “two degrees off” normal. 

How did Covid impact you, and impact your part of the world? 
What during the past year of Covid was particularly difficult for you?
For you, what questions still linger about Covid?

  • Your Belief System

Over time we all develop a personal set of beliefs that will help determine our behavioral choices. Understanding an other’s beliefs helps us know what makes them tick. This requires NON-Judgmental Listening. What are your current beliefs on these matters listed below and how do they impact your life?

Rank the importance of people, relationships, money, stuff, position, work and other’s approval.
Faith: God, the supernatural other than God, spirituality or no/limited faith involvement.
Whom/what do you place your faith in?
What do you believe about success and failure?
Describe your political leanings… are you passionate, sort of interested, not interested?
Societal Differences: How do you respond to people who are different than you, or who differ from you?

  • Listening

What part of listening do you already do well? Not so well? 
What counsel would you give a young person (someone younger than you) about listening?

  • A Powerful Listening Insight (this requires explanation)

“I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I said.” –Allen Greenspan 
Please explain what was said. Do you identify with the speaker, the one being spoken to or both?

  • Before you start the conversations consider the following:

…You may need several conversa- tions or additional times to cover these questions. 
… Equal time and vulnerability are needed for be BOTH the listener and the one listening. 
… Do NOT judge the person you are listening to. In the context of a two-way conversation, you may relate your beliefs. RESPECT goes a long way with people who may disagree with us. 
… Do NOT interrupt the person you are listening to. WHEN you have a question ask for permission to ask the question. Here is one of a number of good ways to ask: If I heard you correctly you said. Did I hear you correctly?

  • A different conversation with someone you have just met, or who is at best an acquaintance:

Visiting with people you don’t know well (or at all) is both a gift and a lost art. Several suggestions for getting the ball rolling are listed below. Also there are some questions that can help those conversations.

Determining the comfort level of people you don’t know is essential. Tread lightly. 
Gently move forward when building acquaintances, friendships and relationships. 
Expect positive results and you will often (in time) get positive results. 
Mix in your experiences with the questions you might ask. Two-way conversations work best. 
When the conversation is over (don’t extend it). Thank the person for their time and thoughts. 
This comment may help: “I enjoyed our visit. Perhaps we can talk again.”

Conversation starters …

A Possible set of discussion questions 

Our weather this summer certainly was hotter than normal for here. How does this weather compare with where you grew up or currently live? 
Where do you consider home? What stands out about your home community? How would you compare your “home area” with our community? 
It’s interesting to hear how people view our community. What observa- tions have you made about our town, both good and bad?
What in your opinion makes a town or community special? 
Lately I have done some extra thinking about listening. Would you mind if I asked you a question or two about your understanding of listening?
What in your opinion makes a good listener?
Some people say that listening can be hard work. Do you agree or disagree?

Wendell Amstutz, MA

Wendell Amstutz, MA

CEO | Author / Speaker | amstutz@ncommunityrc.org | 507-254-1265

Scroll to Top