Little-known fact: the average focus group moderator shares more than a little professional DNA with priests, spies, bartenders and occasionally, hostage negotiators. If you’ve spent your career facilitating discussions in homes, cafes and workplaces, you’re probably what Kate Murphy calls an ‘Olympic-level listener’ (yes, you do deserve a medal!). This mindmap draws a few points from Stephen Moss’s Guardian article reflecting on Kate Murphy’s new book, ‘You’re Not Listening’, including the negative impacts when we don’t listen to each other, and some practical pointers for doing it better.
Conducting a 90-minute research interview is exhausting because great listening takes courage (to ask the difficult questions), concentration (to maintain focus whilst allowing speakers to digress) and above all, care (for the person who is telling the story). It’s worth it, of course, not just for the outcomes of our projects and research, but for the positive effect on the individual we’re listening to. As Kate Murphy reflects on great listeners:
“When you’re with them, you don’t get a sense that there’s anywhere else they need to be, that they want you to hurry up. They have all the time in the world for you, and they’re really interested. That makes them a really good listener. And it also makes the other person more willing to share.”Kate Murphy, quoted here