Deep Listening

Do you consider yourself a good listener? What would your partner say? Your friends? Your children? Your direct reports?

According to author and negotiation expert, William Ury, listening is important for three reasons:

  • Listening helps us fully understand the other side.
  • Listening helps us connect.
  • Listening to another makes it more likely the other will listen to us.

It’s not just that we listen, but how we listen that matters.

How do I listen to others?
As if everyone were my most revered Teacher
Speaking to me
His/Her cherished last words.
– Hafiz

Consider the following levels of listening:

Level One:  Ignoring
I’m blatantly rejecting your request for my attention.

Level Two:  Pretend Listening
I’m listening to you but I’m distracted with my own thoughts. I don’t really hear you. In this situation, it’s really all about me.

Level Three:  Selective Listening
I’m listening for what’s interesting or relevant to me.

Level Four:  Self-referential Listening
I’m listening to you, but I will nudge the conversation so that it becomes about me. In this situation, I will make sure it becomes all about me.

Level Five:  Fix-it Listening
I’m listening to you but I want to fix your issue by myself. In this situation, it’s still really all about me, but in relation to you.

Level Six:  Deep Listening
I’m listening to you with my full attention—the deepest and most respectful quality of my listening. I want to understand better who you are and what your experience is. In this situation, it’s all about you.

In Practice

  • Enhance your self-awareness by completing the Listening Self Assessment adapted from the Social Transformation Project (download link in the sidebar).
  • Notice what levels of listening you most often engage.
  • Choose a conversation to engage in as a deep listener.
Download Worksheet

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