In a conversation, support is when our response draws out another person, giving them an opportunity to go deeper or open up more. Shift is when we turn the conversation in a different direction, often back toward ourselves or our interests.

Shift Response

Person A: I had a lousy night’s sleep.

Person B: Really? My spouse has had insomnia and has for years. Let me tell you about it.

Support Response

Person A: I had a lousy night’s sleep.

Person B: Really? Anything special on your mind?

Shift responses are not necessarily egotistical in nature or unvarnished attention grabs; often they are just an unthinking reflexive tendency to look for points of connection. However, a support response creates an opportunity to build the relationship. Allowing the other to tell their story lets you build your EQ, practice your learning skills, and burnish your rep as a terrific listener.

Closing Quotes:

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” – Dalai Lama

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.” – Doug Larson, 1926-2017, columnist, ‘Doug’s Dugout’

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen Covey, 1932-2012, ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’

As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier