When we think about “communicating,” most of us think about talking. But what about listening?
In my opinion, listening is one of the (if not the) most important communication skills.
But listening is not easy, is it?
The good news is that listening can be learned! This week’s Talk About Talk podcast episode is a replay of ep.88: “The Power of Listening.” This is one of the most downloaded episodes of all time.
I’m so happy to hear people are focusing on their listening skills…
3 things to Talk About this week:
1. 3 levels of listening
2. 3 strategies to improve your listening
3. The best listeners…
1️⃣ 3 Levels of Listening
Let’s look at the 3 levels of listening as a hierarchy, starting at the bottom.
#1 Passive Listening – This is our default most of the time. We aren’t interrupting, we’re not totally disengaged, but we aren’t giving the speaker our full attention either. With passive listening, we’re simply downloading information and waiting for our turn to speak.
#2 Active Listening – This is a step up from passive listening, and requires us to listen with intent and empathy. With active listening, we’re focused on the other person, we are more engaged, but it’s not the best we can do as listeners.
#3 Collaborative Listening – This is the top of the listening hierarchy! It’s synergistic. This level of listening goes beyond listening with intent and empathy to a fully engaged collaborative dialogue in which real learning occurs.
2️⃣ 3 Strategies to Improve Your Listening
Now that you are familiar with the 3 levels of listening – and our propensity to make passive listening the default – let’s look at 3 strategies that can help elevate your listening not just from passive to active, but all the way to collaborative listening.
- Obvious, yes, but not easy. Focus on the other person, not on yourself. Focus on their words, body language, and facial expressions.
- Put away your phone to avoid distractions.
- Focus on learning and acquiring information, not on advising or sharing information.
- Ask as many questions as you can. Remember, your goal is to acquire information!
- Ask quality questions that encourage the other person to share.
- Avoid yes/no questions and opt for open-ended questions like, “Can you tell me more about that?”
- Track the ratio of you talking vs. the other person talking. Is there a valid reason why you might be talking more than your fair share? Are you sure?
- Embrace the silence. Don’t feel the need to fill every lull in the conversation.
- If you’re a leader, track the ratio of everyone in the room and make space for everybody to speak up.
3️⃣ Who are the Best Listeners?
According to research, INTROVERTS might be the best listeners.
When I read this, it made immediate sense to me. Introverts are internally focused and they derive energy from quiet and solitude. Of course they are better listeners!
Wherever you fall on the introversion-extroversion spectrum, Quiet, by Susan Cain is a great resource to help you tap into the power of listening. I also encourage you to listen to Talk About Talk ep.82. This episode can help you figure out whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, and how to manage your energy.
You can learn more about the power of listening in the latest Talk About Talk podcast episode. My challenge to you this week is to start moving up the hierarchy to collaborative listening.
Executive Communication Coach
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