Would you like some ideas?
When my son was in college, I noticed that whenever he talked about a problem, I would instantly shift into “fixing” mode. But here’s the thing – it wasn’t all that effective. So, I decided to change my approach.
Today, I’d like to dive into the different roles we can play as listeners and offer three questions to support you.
I began using a simple phrase:
- “Is this a listening conversation? Or would you like some ideas?”
Notice, I said “ideas,” not advice. After all, nobody really wants unsolicited advice. They might, however, appreciate some ideas they can ponder and adapt to their own situation.
This small shift in my approach had a profound impact. It empowered my son to be in control of our conversation. He could decide whether he wanted me to just be present and listen or if he wanted me to offer some ideas. This clarity benefited both of us.
In any conversation, there comes a moment of pause. During that moment,
I ask two more questions:
- How do you feel?
- Are you ready to wrap up, would you like me to keep listening, or would you like some ideas?”
This allows them to jump in and tell me what role they’d like me to play in that particular moment. They are the decision-maker!
This approach is especially supportive, particularly with individuals who are beginning to assert their autonomy. It gives them the opportunity to shape the kind of relationships they desire and the support they need.