Listening Generously: Willingness to Be Influenced

A Willingness to Be Influenced

To listen generously is to lead with curiosity and intent to learn backed up by willingness to be influenced. And this backed up by willingness to be influenced is a critical aspect of Listening Generously. When there’s no willingness to be influenced then I’m not really Listening Generously. I might be using all the skills of Listening Generously and really getting good at those skills, but what’s now the case is that I’m looking for how I can influence you or how I can make my point. I’m only listening from that perspective. At this point, it’s going to be a win-lose situation or something of that order. We’re not really collaborating together unless I also have that willingness to be influenced.

You Don’t Always Have to Go Along With the Other Person

And that doesn’t mean I’m always going to go along with what the other person is saying. I could be–maybe I’m not influenced by what they have to say. Though I find that most often when I do listen generously–I find that I am influenced in some way. It might not be that I’m going to change my course of action, but I’ve now come to see the world a little differently, and I’m more aware of what are some of the challenges or actions that I need to take–things I need to take into consideration.

It’s Important to Have Strong Views

And be clear: we’re not saying don’t have strong views. Many times it’s important to have strong views, especially when they’re grounded in experience and facts. It’s just not getting trapped in my view so that my view is the only view or my view is the right view, and I’m not willing to be influenced. Well then it’s going to be pretty hard for us to collaborate. Now there may be times where there might be something I’m just not willing to be influenced about. Then, you speak straight about it. Say, “This area–I’m not willing to be influenced. I am willing to be influenced about this.” OK, now we can engage and collaborate together.

Don’t Get Locked Into Your Point of View

It’s also–we’re not talking about just going along with anything and being influenced by everything people have to say to you, and you just keep changing your course depending upon who you’re talking to. No, that’s not how you forward what we’re up to. You’ve got to be willing to make commitments, be willing to take strong views, operate out of some committed perspective that you’ve taken. That’s an important part of making things happen in the world. It’s just when I get so fixed or locked in my view that I can’t be influenced, and we can’t collaborate together–that’s what we’re getting at by this willingness to be influenced. Because when I’m willing to be influenced, what opens up is all that I can’t see within the constraints of my already existing view. And while there might be strength and power in my view, my view is also going to limit me from seeing other possibilities. And when I’m willing to be influenced, those possibilities begin to open up. That’s exciting! That’s an exciting part of collaborating and of Listening Generously. And it also can be the uncomfortable part–to allow myself to shift my view a bit, to be actually influenced and see things in a new way, to let go of that comfortableness of I know how things are and this is how it’s going to be. Well, there’s times and places for taking a stand that this is how it’s going to be, this is what we’re going to do. And can I be willing to be influenced as we collaborate together. 

The Generosity of Listening Generously

Only then am I truly Listening Generously, and that’s where so much of the–where that generosity is, that generosity that it takes to be willing to be influenced, that generosity that it takes to be willing to find value in the other person’s perspective. That’s where the power can be released in our collaboration together. And as a result of my Listening Generously and of those around me growing in their strength to listen generously. Exciting!

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