Years ago, when I was relatively new to my career, I had a mentor who was the most amazing listener I’ve ever encountered. To this day, when I think of what it means to truly *be engaged* with someone, she is the person who comes to mind.
As a social worker, active listening was obviously one of the essential skills that was repeated again and again in coursework. Still, for me, Connie was the person who embodied the practice.
When I was in conversation with Connie, I always *felt* her listening. Maybe that sounds weird if you’ve never experienced such a thing.
I always wondered… Is it her body language? Is it in the eye contact? Is it just that her face is naturally compassionate? Is it that she gave her full attention without all of the distractions that are so typical in most conversations?
I suppose it was a lovely combination of all of the above.
Connie retired from the state agency where I worked nearly two decades ago, but she will always hold a special place in my heart, largely because of how she made me *feel* when she listened.
Imagine what a powerful thing it would be to create that experience with an audience.
What would it be like if they *felt* your listening?
What if they *felt* your alignment with what they want?
What if they *felt* your compassion for their situation?
I believe it’s possible to emanate these qualities for members. Maybe not as perfectly as my dear friend, Connie.
But certainly better than the typical organization would.
I’m curious if you’ve ever experienced the power of being listened to?
What was that like for you? How do you think that we can embed such practices in our work with members?
I’d love to hear about your experiences in this area. Drop a reply in the comments below and let me know.
Joy Duling is Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership. Since 2005, Joy and her team have helped associations, trade groups and membership-based nonprofits run their programs more easily and deliver exceptional member care.
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