Season 1 - Episode 1: The SWGL crew travels to San Francisco to meet with Dr. Kelsey Crowe, an empathy expert and co-author of There is No Good Card For This. Kelsey walks Graham through several techniques of how to become a better listener, even if he disagrees with the person speaking
For the full conversation, listen to the podcast below:
Graham: I think a lot of us consider ourselves to be good listeners. But it's a little difficult to make connections sometimes where everything feels so charged. And the dialogue on television, social media is so full of conflict. I want to have conversations that are bigger. I want to hear about people's lives that aren't like my own. Because it's easy to just limit your world to what you know.
Graham: My name is Graham. I'm a straight white guy. And I'm going to be listening here in San Francisco, California. We're about to meet with Dr. Kelsey crow. She's just coauthored a book called There's No Good Card for This. She's an empathy expert. And I'm hoping that she'll give me some tools that I need in order to be a better listener.
Graham: What is the value of listening. What why should we listen. What's the point?
Kelsey: What's the point. Well I think especially now in society and many people are not feeling heard that sound so basic but when we feel heard we build trust. And the more trust that we have with other people, the more we care for each other. And if we want to build a caring, concerned, society we need to figure out a way not only to tell our story, but to hear the stories of others.
Kelsey: People think that when you're listening you're not contributing to the conversation. I think we all want to feel that we're making a mark, that we're contributing. That we're adding value. And in conversation that means. Putting forward opinions and ideas. And we don't understand how much a simple listening is a part of that dialogue. It's not just that someone's hearing, you know. What listening means is really paying attention to what that person is saying and not being preoccupied with what you are going to say next. A lot of times when we're sharing something particularly vulnerable. Our biggest fear is that we will be judged around that. When someone isn't judging you for what you're saying. It can be a very relaxing, calming, trust building experience.
Graham: Even while I'm listening to you, I'm trying to think of the next thing. So I think most people even when they're best intentioned are like oh maybe I could relate. Maybe I can say Oh I read about that. How do you stay present. How do you not try to jump to the next thing.
Kelsey: Say you want to just simply understand someone else's experience. The best follow up questions you can ask are things that show further interest in that person's perspective. So rather than saying Oh I read something about that which then brings it back to you and what you think you know based on this thing that you read say what's that like for you. That's a great great question to ask in any situation to say what's that like for you. Suggest total humility. I don't know anything about your experience. I'm interested in your experience and that's it.
Graham: So when I talk to other straight white guys about it, they're usually supportive and interested but the other thing that I noticed too is sometimes we get defensive when we aren't the person sexually harassing. When we aren't the racists on the street. When it feels like you aren't the one at fault.
Kelsey: I think I think that's a two way issue. If you're say a woman or a person of color or you know which other gender identity and you have been marginalized in some way you feel that your story isn't the one that's told very often and that's totally true. You know, who's writing the Hollywood scripts, who's running the government who's running the companies. So. It is important that we get to share our story.
Kelsey: And we have to believe that when somebody else's experience is elevated through the personal sharing of it that doesn't have to diminish our own history. We don't have to there's not compassion right where we care for each other. It's not like it's a limited pie. It actually grows. So that you as a white man, the more compassion that you can give, me which means suspension of judgment, trusting my story, listening deeply, caring. The more you give me, the more you receive from me.
Graham: So let's say that I'm in a conversation or maybe something I'm not used to. I'm talking about something that's usually not usually my experience. Are there any Hot tips?
Kelsey: Yes there are rules. I have my one rule. It's the three second rule. So say somebody says something to you and there's a pause. And normally with a pause you think OK. Now I'm supposed to jump in and say something. And that's usually when that fix it impulse comes in with. I'm either going to adjust the perspective here.
Kelsey: I'm going to give the information that I have around this problem like oh I just read an article on that our impulses to jump in. Don't. Use the three second rule. Wait three seconds. One Mississippi two Mississippi three Mississippi before bringing up anything yourself because very often someone will fill that silence with more. It's huge. And the benefit of it of course is because somebody else gets to share their story and that's what your goal is is to be supportive and build rapport and to generate understanding. But the second great thing about the three second rule if you don't have to find this elusive wise thing to say. You actually do less work. It's less painful when you're just listen. So you may want to respond before three seconds because we're building an intellectual understanding. But when someone sharing something vulnerable, that's not the time to put on that intellectual understanding. That's the time to kind of be a different listener one whose main job is just to hear and receive somebody else's experience.
Kelsey: I think right now all of us have become talked at through our various media and social media feeds. You know social media is a way that we engage with each other. Where we don't have to listen. It's all about how we respond. It's so important right now because no matter where you're from or who you are. People are feeling like their story doesn't matter. Taking the time to listen. It's something that all of us need to do for each other. If we don't. Then we will just live in these tribal. Groups of people who are just like us. And then once you're with that tribal group and you're still not learning to listen you get a splinter off to the point where you're just alone.
Kelsey: We need to start connecting beyond our tribes even so that we can connect better within our tribes.
This interview was transcribed using a third-party service. Please excuse any errors.