One reason people demonstrate resistance and resentment to change is when they feel they have no control of their situation. Often this feeling of lack of control stems from not having an outlet for their frustration or their ideas. As a change agent, you can mitigate some resistance simply by listening.
I have often heard it said that we have one mouth and two ears for a reason; we should use them in that proportion. But listening goes beyond just letting someone flap their lips with you in the vicinity. In the book Co-Active Coaching, the authors describe three levels of listening:
- Internal listening. The focus is on the spoken words and their meaning to you (as the listener).
- Focused listening. Your attention is on the other person. You notice not only what they say, but how they say it and what they don’t say. You focus on the meaning to them. Level 2 listening is where understanding, collaboration, empathy, and clarification happen.
- Global listening. You bring more of your intuition to the listening, feeling the energy and changes to the environment during the conversation.
At Level 1, most people will not feel as though you are truly listening to them. To show that you understand requests and concerns, your best listening as a change agent will happen at Level 2. Even if you are unable to fulfill requests and fix concerns, if you are fully listening to people going through change, they will feel that their opinions and experiences count.
To whom do you need to listen?
Read more of the 99 Ways to Influence Change.