Listening – Power, Skill, and Style
Your greatest tool of influence is your ears.
Listening increases the value and impact of your words.
“Real listening is a willingness to let the other person change you.” Alan Alda
4 listener styles:
Dana Dupuis lists four listener styles.
#1. Connective style focuses on what an interaction means for others.
- Notice how people feel.
- Wonder why people are sharing this.
- Ask questions for others.
#2. Reflective style focuses on processing information internally, with a strong reliance on the listener’s own judgment rather than the advice of others.
- Listen but don’t ask questions. Share conclusions. (They don’t share reasoning.)
- Listen quietly. They may seem intimidating.
- Seldom ask for advice or opinions. They make up their own mind.
#3. Analytical style focuses on facts, data, and measurable information.
You say things like:
- Get to the point.
- Just the facts.
- I don’t need all the fluff.
#4. Conceptual style focuses on brainstorming and idea generation.
- Love dreaming about the future.
- Embrace failure. What can we do differently next time?
- Explore options.
4 steps to improve listener skill:
#1. Declare an intention.
Choose one of the four styles as an intention. “I intend to listen to connect,” for example.
#2. Seek feedback.
- When you’re talking, how do I let you know I’m paying attention?
- What might give you the impression that I’m not listening?
#3. Choose one skill to practice.
- Turning toward people and giving eye contact.
- Turning away from computers and cell phones.
- Pausing before speaking.
- Ask, “What else?”
- Say, “Could you tell me more about…?”
You employ several listening styles and lean toward one. I lean toward conceptual listening. I never met an idea that I couldn’t do something with.
What’s your preferred style?
What’s one thing you could do to improve your ability to listen?
The Top 10 Super Powers of Listening
Listening is the Overlooked Tool of Leadership
Two habits that have helped me.
1. Make eye contact with the speaker. It reminds me to focus, pay attention, and listen.
2. Create a word or phrase such as “concentrate,” or “be present” that you can say to yourself. Use it as a reminder to stop the internal chatter and give the speaker your total attention.
Thanks Paul. Eye contact frequently comes up as a core listening skill. Some of us look down or away when we think. This gives the impression we aren’t listening.
Good listening includes the process of constantly returning to a state of paying attention. A thought pushes in, then you remind yourself to come back.
Alan Alda’s quote is brilliant and seems to transcend the the four styles of listening (and the giraffe picture is brilliant!) perhaps taking you to a place where you are engaged in all four types of listening at once? Is that possible?
There have been a few times in my life where I could listen with that wholehearted willingness to truly hear. It can be beautiful to be so present.
One thing I find difficult while working remote, (though it happens in person) is when my eyes also get “hungry” for input. I find my attention wandering off to find something to feed them (not helpful). Perhaps that is why we sometimes close our eyes when we really want to hear.
Thank you for a wonderful reflection, Elizabeth. I agree with you that we use all 4 styles. I hadn’t thought about all at once. Love that you brought that up. It makes my brain hurt. 🙂
It seems like knowing your ‘weakness’ helps. If you know you need visual stimulation, notice when your eyes start to wander.
I once heard that the majority of the time where people are not listening it’s because they are busy trying to think of what they want to say next. I catch myself doing that frequently and have found that my attempts to break that habit are helping me get much more out of conversations. Listen to understand rather than just to respond.
Brilliant, Joshua. Sometimes success is about stopping things. 🙂
In one of NVC workshops we did this exercise where two people would lay on the floor, feet away from each other, ear-to-ear almost touching, and almost touching top of the head to the other person’s shoulder. Plus we were told to close our eyes and whisper (helps the other person to listen as it requires a little bit more attention).
This was a wonderful reminder how manipulating our environment and trying something different then our default mode of communication helps to be more present, listen and understand better, connect …
That would certainly make me pay attention.
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