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3 Ways to Advance Your Listening

Sound expert and TED Talker, Julian Treasure, believes we are losing our listening.

He says the visual and auditory cacophony that bombards us daily is wearing us thin. We’re too tired to listen.

Our poor brains are overwhelmed with digital stimulation. Quieting our minds to simply listen intently to another human being is becoming harder and harder.

Treasure says that without keen listening we lose the ability to understand each other. And where is this world headed with less understanding?

Here are 3 tips for listening better:

1) Reality Check

It’s far too easy to gloss over the substance of what someone is saying because you think you’ve gotten the basic gist. The gist often isn’t enough. Probe for a clearer understanding with phrases like:

  • Say more about that.

  • What do you mean when you say X?

  • You’ve mentioned X twice. Tell me what is important about that?

2) Feel Your Way

Words are only one aspect of communication. Notice the emotion underlying the words. For example:

  • Is the speaker’s lack of excitement conveying doubt about the success of a project?

  • Is their annoyance telling you they are angry at your behaviour or someone else’s?

  • Is their exuberance a sign that they’re the right person to lead the charge on a certain task?

3) Go Deep

People don’t always tell you their ‘whole story’ head on. They may be only giving you surface information (think tip of the iceberg) when their values and true beliefs may be hidden from your view. They may be hinting at something important, hoping you will read their cues. You may need to tune in closely to unlock the real information they want to convey. Seek their unstated concerns and clarify the context in which they view the situation or your comments. Reflect back what you hear them say. Then people will feel truly heard.

Below, I've listed three are examples of how this type of listening can look. Identify at least one situation where you will implement this technique and schedule it into your calendar.

  • We’ve discussed the next steps we need to take to complete the project. What do you feel is the best way to proceed?

  • What do you feel the risks are? What do you feel are the benefits?

  • What makes you say that?

Leaders who work with Lisa as their executive leadership coach have seen great results when it comes to listening more effectively. Perhaps this is the next step for you?


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