After spending a year with a leading design thinking agency in Wellington, NZ, one of the most important skills I took away from that experience was the art of listening.
It also has a lot of connection with Empathy, the idea of perspective taking, staying out of judgement and recognising emotion in those we are listening to —all without leading the discussion. This video summarises this wonderfully:
I recognised so many times the challenges the Fellows were facing during our sessions together, which in turn made it incredibly difficult to not just jump in and provide a possible solution (something I still need to work on). Instead the challenge for me was to ensure I understood fully and identify how timing was very important in my role as a Mentor.
Mentoring for me is more about listening than it is about talking. This foundation provides a chance to move to a more active listening role:
…a communication technique used in counselling, training and conflict resolution, which requires the listener to feed back what they hear to the speaker, by way of re-stating or paraphrasing what they have heard in their own words, to confirm what they have heard and moreover, to confirm the understanding of both parties.
The combination of listening, consciously attempting empathy, then active listening, allows for pathways into potential resolutions, or maybe, just better questions. Again, sometimes it’s not about having the answers, more so providing a connection to a shared experience and together working out the answer.
Want to thank those Fellows I had the opportunity to mentor for teaching me further how to listen better: thank you Amber, JoJo and Steve.