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A friend of mine called me to share some ideas. He was giving a team building workshop with some high school athletes and wanted to share his ideas on the workshop with me. Even though I had a semi-busy day, I made time to talk with him. It is an honor to have someone wanting to share their thoughts with you and to hear your perspective. Many people keep things like this to themselves, not wanting to let secrets out or be judged. It takes an understanding of trust and comfort for someone to share and I was happy they felt that with me.

It is good practice to listen to someone when they are talking with you. Too often people are busy thinking what they will say next instead of completely placing the focus on the content being delivered. This can be amplified if you feel obligated to share input. What helps me in these situations is reminding myself that this moment is about the other person and their thoughts. I need to dial in my attention to them.

As my friend told me his thoughts I listened and offered some quick words as per normal conversation while then allowing him to continue. After he was finished, he prompted me by asking my thoughts and as I took a breath to think it over, I could recall the information he told me with clarity. I was able to provide a couple solid pieces of feedback, mostly in the manner of praising his approach as it seemed effective per usual.

In the past, I would get excited to hear the ideas and want to explain why something was so exciting and how it connected with other concepts or ideas. This could be problematic as it then becomes too much about me and my thoughts when the objective was to have the focus on their ideas. The key is to realize if someone is reaching out to you as a sounding board or brainstorming. Depending on where they are in their ideation process, it may require a more involved or passive role on your end.

I enjoy being able to hear ideas which then lead to more ideas for myself, especially when it took minimal effort on my part. It is good to realize I should utilize this sounding board approach as well so both parties can get something. There have been times in the past I didn’t tell anyone because I figured they wouldn’t really care. Now I know it prevented me from ironing out some unseen wrinkles and from them getting a learning experience from hearing what I would do.

I encourage you to make yourself available as a sounding board to those you are close to. Keep in mind your role in this moment and I hope you can both reap the benefits.

-Jeremy

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