Cooperative Listening

Happy New Year! My intention during 2010 is to get better at listening generously to the people who cross my path whether friend or stranger. I hope this poem engages you to be all you can be in the New Year!

The Art of Life
The most precious Art I know of
Is the art of life.
It can be expressed without
Hammer, brush, banjo, pen or clay.
Yet whoever shares this art of life,
Brings a sparkle to other’s lives.
He sees and doesn’t draw;
She listens and hears, yet doesn’t sing or strum.
Theirs is the art of listening and caring,
Choosing to be present for friends and strangers alike.

This is the message behind cooperative intelligence, particularly cooperative connection and cooperative communication. Cooperative connectors value every connection they make with people, and the other person knows that they have the cooperative connector’s undivided attention. There is no multi-tasking or day dreaming while listening to another person’s woes or stories.

A cooperative communicator is a generous listener, not too caught up in his own life that he is waiting for the earliest opportunity to get in the next word without really listening to what the other person is saying. While a lack of good listening is a strong tendency in the American culture, I find it’s more relaxing and engaging to let the other person share what’s on her mind without interruption, while fully listening to what she’s saying: his words, her tone of voice, body language, and what she’s not saying that you might have expected.

Interestingly enough I have found that this ability to communicate cooperatively is invaluable in research, competitive intelligence and sales. In this hurried world we live in, if you just allow the other person to share what they know, they really appreciate this opportunity, whether it’s a scheduled interview, a sales call, a cold call or someone you meet at a trade show.  This dedicated listening engages me to think of creative questions and comments to keep the conversation flowing, which often uncovers valuable information I would never expected to learn. It’s also a lot of fun to listen and learn from others.

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