Being Heard & Respecting Choice

In almost any situation honoring someone's choice creates better connection.  Autonomy is one of the most important human needs. When someone has the perception that you are talking to them without considering their choice, resentful listening is often the result.

A little mindfulness check-in about starting a conversation with respect for choice can go a long way.  A check-in can sound as simple as, "Can I tell you something?" With this one little question, you can meet needs for consideration, choice, and participation. 

In addition, checking-in before sharing can give you clarity about when you can be heard. Asking if someone wants to listen to you before you start talking, not only respects their choice, but also supports you in being heard.

Here are some ways to ask for listening:

  • Can I tell you something?

  • I have something to share.  Are you up for hearing it?

  • I have a celebration.  Can I share it with you?

  • I am wanting to tell about ______.  Are you interested in hearing?

  • I notice I am needing empathy.  Are you in a place for that?

As you come up with ways to ask for listening you may find that you get an automatic yes from certain people.  Sometimes people are so surprised at being asked they don't really believe it's a choice.  You can support someone in making an authentic choice by asking a follow up question. Here are some examples of what it might sound like:

  • Do you want to talk later?

  • Are you needing some quiet?

  • Are you really focused on what you are doing?

  • Does that topic seem like too much right now?

Offering options like these shows more explicitly that you are considering the other person's needs when you make a request.

This week practice checking in with someone before you start a conversation.  Practice a variety of ways to honor their choice to listen or not. When someone does choose consciously to listen to you, notice if there is a difference in the quality of connection and your sense of being heard.