I’ve been learning how to listen. No, its not something connected to my hearing (or lack of it), it’s more about how rarely we really listen to other people – giving them our full time, attention and focus. Someone took me through five states of listening:
- me now – when you are just waiting for the break in the conversation to jump in and take control of the flow
- me too – when you link in to the conversation by echoing the previous topic, but making it all about you
- advice giving – having listened to someone else’s issue or problem, you jump in with your advice and problem solving skills
- encouragement – you listen, and encourage the person to speak more, open up more, explain more
- active listening – you are there, on task, committed and questioning, supporting the person to really go deep with what they are thinking and feeling, and opening them up to their own new perspectives and their own solutions. Active listening is no passive state. It’s not about echoing body language and making someone feel heard. It’s about listening fiercely to someone and coming right back at them to check and challenge their thinking – but it’s not about adding in thinking of your own.
Active listening is driven by curiosity. It’s intense, and intensely rewarding.
I also find it bloody difficult.