Listening is a skill that needs to be practised and refined. We often think we are listening, however have we truly connected and deployed the skill required.
There are five levels of listening:-
Hopefully ignoring does not happen too often. Pretending can be easily slipped into, you can have all the right facial expressions however the button for listening has not been pressed.
Selective is the one that we save especially for the ones we love the most. Currently my husband loves nothing more than to tell me the latest on US politics. I tune in and out, bit like when you are trying to find the right radio station, every so often he relays something amazing and the rest of the time it is that annoying buzz you get from an untuned radio.
In work we are often actively listening which means we know we have to concentrate so we expertly follow and reflect the facts. It is a place of comfort however you are using a skill and need to practice regularly to check that you are not interrupting with direct questions and hijacking the other person’s agenda.
The top listening is empathetic which takes the most skill. You are not only attending, following and reflecting, you are also calibrating any non verbal indicators. As a coach I need to listen at this level and I know if it has been a good session when I feel exhausted and exhilarated. It is a privilege to listen and follow some-one else’s agenda however it is tiring if done correctly. The joy of being listened to often means you say the things you really want to say. We so rarely get a dam good listening.
As with any new skill keep practising…
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