Reflective Listening…….Wikipedia says……”Reflective listening is a communication strategy involving two key steps: seeking to understand a speaker’s idea, then offering the idea back to the speaker…” But, what happens when the speaker is also the listener? Do you practice reflective listening to your own voice? As a facilitator, we listen intently and seek clarity and understanding. Do you give yourself a chance to seek clarity and understanding? I have to admit that I have caught myself many times not listening, not paying attention to the message that I am delivering.
Allow me to share a great example from a recent trip. Picture yourself sailing away on a 14′ sail-yak on a beautiful bay in the Florida Keys. The weather is starting to get a little cloudy, and the wind a little stronger. Earlier that day, you notice slightly increased boat traffic but thought nothing of it. Besides, its a weekend. Your personal vessel has multiple choices for power. Wind, pedals and a paddle. The preferred choice is wind, but backup power is at the ready.
We are about half way across the bay from our launch site. As sailing goes it is probably a 60 minute sail. As peddling goes it is a 20 minute 600 calories peddle non stop! As the winds blow, you mention that you need to keep an eye on the weather and not venture too much further away from show. All of a sudden from every corner of the bay comes power boats full speed directly past you and heading for shore! Immediately, you think that your weather prediction must be coming true. There has to be a water spout, great white sharks or tornado heading your way. The boats are being escorted by what I interpret must be a Coast Guard Helicoptor. The helicopter did not have any Coast Guard markings but I had determined it had to be an un-marked Coast Guard helicopter.
Since peddling is faster than sailing, I peddle like crazy to get to shore. My heart rate is increasing from the cardio workout. I noticed that the winds seems to be increasing slightly and the waves have drastically increased. I panic a little more and peddle a little harder. Now I am about half way to the exit point to dry land. I stopped for a moment to look at the clouds and they look about the same. That’s good, as the approaching storm must be slowing down. I stop to take a breath and slow my heart rate. Now the power boats are heading back out away from shore. What? One of them is being chased by a helicopter. It is getting so close to the boat, it must be talking to to captain telling him to turn around.
I continue to paddle towards shore and meet up with my husband who has been relaxingly sailing his way towards shore in his boat. He thought I was simply trying to get a cardio workout in. Not that I was fearing my life and his!
Finally we make our way to shore. Immediately I quizzed the outfitter employee asking what was going on and why did all of the boats get “called to shore” by the Coast Guard. She laughed and said, there was no Coast Guard, those boats were participating in a “poker run*”
- My Coast Guard helicopter was a commercial photographer
- My increased waves was from the boats all speeding to shore
- My increased boat traffic was for the event itself.
- The helicopter chasing the boat was not trying to talk to the pilot, simply taking a picture.
- The weather forecast that I had checked before we left was right on……a small chance of rain showers.
- There was no water spout, or great white shark attack
What I did not do, was practice reflective listening to my own inner voice. Had I actually listened for understanding and clarity on what my imagination was saying, I would have seen the situation for what is really was. How many times have you not listened to your own voices and used the facilitation skills to interpret your own words?
*A poker run is an organized event where participants, usually using motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, boats, snowmobiles, horses, or other means of transportation must visit five to seven checkpoints, drawing a playing card at each one. The object is to have the best poker hand at the end of the run.