Working with Andrew is rewarding. I can’t tell him that yet because he’s working very hard and humbly ~ I don’t want anything to disrupt that. Maybe he can just sense it.
Andrew approaches his inquiries with refreshing openness. I can see in his affect/body language/ facial expressions that he is willing to lay aside previous notions to try new behaviors and frames of observing. I must add that guys who are able to commit to gaining insight this way are rare- at least in my world. He told me about a scenario at work where he practiced active listening, but received feedback that he looked distant and unconcerned. This boggled Andrew. So he asked me to tell him about something while he listened in the way he had in the scenario. Okay, yes, I could see where that feedback came from. There was nothing in his eyes but vacancy, he didn’t nod as he considered my descriptions, didn’t sit up straight or lean in. (In fact, this gave me the exact same feeling I get while talking to Josh, who listens in the same way. I will lay this aside until the end of this post.) So I told Andrew what his body language said to me -that I wasn’t particularly interesting an the was planning an escape to get a nap.
Andrew explained that he was actually listening intently, and just doesn’t express himself with all the nodding and “uh-huhs” and that he prefers to listen in a way that feels genuine. I indicated that I know the feeling, but there is a common unspoken agreement and value in doing these behaviors to show listening. Maybe this is another reason this listening is called, “active listening.” We are acting and moving, not being still and silent. Andrew nods his head, blinking. I say, “Even that slight gesture you just made unconsciously says you are listening and integrating. When you blink, it’s as if I can watch ‘the coin drop’ and the idea is becoming meaningful to you.
I think it would be so great if Andrew was as willing to be exposed in his life outside of coaching. I can't and shouldn’t say for sure that he isn’t, my hunch is that he doesn’t readily admit that he doesn’t know how to show that he is listening because exposure is so scary for EVERYONE. It’s such an honor for me to be able to straight talk with Andrew and be real. I had a strong sense that Andrew requires no-nonsense conversation, but since that can be hard to come by, he’s coped without. Sometimes people take on a sense of cool when a genuine conversation is historically hard to come by. He says his close friends are “Movers” like him. It’s awesome to witness his transition to “Listener.”
The part of our conversation where he shows me how he listened taught me something about how I feel when I’m speaking. I’ve spoken to people who listen just the way he demonstrated, and I become so insecure! Just as he explained, these people in my life explain, this is how they listen!
So, HUH! Maybe now I can return to these listeners and let them listen their way without feeling unheard? Being able to tell Andrew that this type of listening doesn’t really feel present or pleasant was very therapeutic for me - especially that he earnestly listened and reflected. Maybe I won’t have that moment of truth in my own relationships. But being able to put my words out there made me feel less of a need to. Thanks Andrew!