Someone was complaining to me about another person.  “He doesn’t listen,” he said.  Nothing up to this point had suggested that was the case.  There were no suggestions ignored, no examples of miscommunication or specifics the person could point to which substantiated this perception.

After trying in vain to clarify the problem, I reframed the question.  “He doesn’t listen — or he doesn’t ask?”  As he thought about it, it seemed that not asking was really the issue.  The other party had not sought him out, solicited feedback or asked his advice.  Thus, when she proceeded ahead with a project, my colleague felt unheard.  Unheard translated to not listening.

There is a huge difference in the actions someone would take to address listening vs. asking. Understanding that distinction could make all the difference in resolving trust between them.

If something doesn’t seem right or ring true to your experience, dig a little deeper.  Taking the time to clarify upfront could go a long way toward understanding in the end.

— beth triplett

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