Our Listening Skills Have Gone to Sh*t

I would argue the majority of us today possess listening skills that are complete shit.

We are busy, things have to get done, we downplay it.  And yet, intellectually, we know better.  For people leaders, listening is a critical skill for being effective.  Good listening allows you to be fully aware and informed about what’s happening to those around you at work (and at home, too).

I had the pleasure of connecting with a great coach last week – Kristina Harrison, who described three levels of listening and where we should aim in order to be most effective.  I thought it was worth sharing with you.  The content below comes from the Coaches Training Institute (CTI), a leading global coaching company:

  1. Internal Listening – this can best be described by a common experience we’ve all shared.  A colleague or friend tells you something and you immediately begin thinking about what you’re going to say next.  As in you are hearing them, but thinking only about your reply (or other things entirely).  For example, they say “….this winter weather is really getting me down.  I may look into booking a beach vacation to get a break.”  To which you reply, “I know!  I went to Cuba last winter.  I had a fabulous time there!”  The listening done at level 1 is all about the conversation you’re having with yourself.  The lowest common denominator, folks!
  2. Focused Listening – this occurs when you are completely dialed in on the other person.  Mom and baby is a good example, where very little can distract a mother from focusing on her child, even with a flurry of activity around her.  Think about how different your conversation is at work when the other person is completely focused on what you have to say, and is curious to know more.  From a leader and coach perspective, this is where good things start to happen.
  3. Global Listening – level 3 listening is all about being in tune with what’s happening around you.  You’re completely focused on the other person – you can sense attitude changes, moods, and the impact the conversation is having. And you are fully aware of the environment around you (ex. think about a public speaker sensing when the energy changes from the stage – is the message landing well or is the room withdrawing?).

As leaders, staying at level 2 and 3 produces the best coaching conversation, increasing the chances that we fully understand our people and know how to best support them for success.

What level of listening are you?

Be great,