Do you have The Time for The Story?

by belinda.

While I was recovering from my recent surgery, I watched MAFS (Married at First Sight) and according to the ratings so do millions and millions of us! One ‘wife’ was sharing her backstory with her ‘husband’ whilst on their Whitsunday beach honeymoon, when after a few minutes he was no longer listening and soon announced “I’m not your therapist”. It was obvious he was not interested in his ‘wife’s’ life, he was interested in her body. She wanted to let him know more about WHO she was and give context to her life. He was focussed on something else. This is not a unique situation and one that many of us can relate to. One person is talking and the other person is NOT LISTENING.

Listening is a skill that we are not taught, unlike language, writing and reading. Yet is it a skill that builds trust and relatedness and is the ‘glue’ that keeps people connected. Be it your partner, your team, your children, your boss, or your new ‘wife’.

Sure, sometimes we don’t have time to listen to the full story of the talker, so what can we do differently rather than cut them off or shut them down like our MAFS ‘husband’ did? How can we get to the heart of the matter/cut to the chase? I use the 5S model:

1.   Situation
2.   Symptom
3.   Source
4.   Solution
5.   Shift

In our MAFS example, our ‘wife’ was sharing her story (story=situation+symptoms). She was letting her new husband know she had had a tough childhood (Situation)and this had made her very independent and strong (Symptom). What she really was wanting was to let her new husband know that it might be difficult for her to be fully trusting and intimate with him until he understood this (Source). Instead of him listening and saying something along the lines of “Thanks for letting me know this about you” or “I appreciate you opening up so I can better get to know you” (Solution), he shut her down and she didn’t want to be with him. Thus, there was no change in behaviour (Shift) from either of them. She got up and left, and he reflected on why he was still single!

The point I’m making is to listen for the SOURCE, vs getting caught up in the seductive Situation and Symptoms which, remember, is only the story. Listen for the SOURCE. What is behind the words? What is really going on here? Listen for things such as: Values, Strengths, Needs, Habits. Then when you identify that a Solution can be explored which will lead to a change in behaviour which is the Shift.

I have a Listening Chart that assists in listening for the Source, vs simply the story (story=situation+symptoms). Explore beneath the story to expose the source. If you would like a copy, please email me and I’ll send you one.

You will have to watch MAFS Australia to find out how this eventually turns out…will our ‘husband’ be able to understand what his ‘wife’ really wants and make that shift?  I’m not a gambling woman but I if I were, I would bet he won’t. He is not self-aware enough…yet. Perhaps he needs a coach???