Truly listening, attentively, and with care, is one of the simplest and most kind gifts we can give anyone. — John Bruna
Before we start I want you to do a quick exercise, you can write this down or do it in your head. Decide on three people you know that are great listeners, they can be from work, friends and family any part of your life. Got them? If you are finding this difficult that says a lot about how rare great listeners are! Now do you like love or respect them?
Part Three – Conscious Listening
Chances are you were able to tick all three boxes for each of them or at least two of them. If you want to be liked, loved and respected, one of the best ways to do this is perfect your conscious listening skills. Leading from the heart means letting go of your ego and agenda and really seeking to understand others, conscious listening is a truly unselfish act. What do I mean by conscious listening? We hear all of the time. Its part of our survival mechanism and most of us are very good at listening to respond. Conscious listening is when we are in the moment and very present with the person we are listening to. Here are 3 key things you need to do to stay in the moment: - 1. Let go of your agenda - that means not talking about you, asking questions that help the other person tell you more, and there is no judgement. 2. Get rid of your distractions – put down your phone, turn away from your screen, stop loading the dishwasher and make the commitment to listen. You really can't multi-task when it comes to listening. 3. Be silent – silent has the same letters as listen – leave space for them to think and answer, this is all about them and not you. 4. Summarise and reflect back your understanding – if you do this it will really help to pull you back into the moment, you are able to clarify and test any assumptions and best of all you show you care and are listening. If something is conscious, it stands to reason. It's going to take hard work and commitment to perfect it and not just once. Below are 3 brilliant exercise taken from the master class in my new book “Stand Out” coming out next year.
1. Three minutes of silence every day has been proven to help with our overall awareness and mindfulness, which in turn helps us to be more effective listeners.
Starting today and then every day this week find 3 minutes to be totally silence and aware of everything going on around you. To get you started: • Focus on your breathing • What can you hear (bird song, traffic air conditioning etc.)? • How do you feel (warm, cold, hungry, thirsty etc.)? • I feel tired • I feel bored • I feel a bit down • I feel excited and motivated • I feel nervous and anxious
2. Be the interviewer.
Pick someone at work you know less well or a family member or friend, (that’s the great thing about listening you can practice any time) By using a variety of different question types, including QAQAQ find out something that you don’t already know about them. In this exercise resist the temptation to talk about yourself, give them 5-10 minutes of quality curiosity. Questions to get you started: 1. What was the highlight of your day? 2. What exciting things have you got going on in your life right now? 3. Tell me what are you working on right now? 4. What are you up to this weekend
3. Rate yourself.
Rate yourself 1 – 5 on the scale for each, 1 being no way and 5 being yes that’s me. My highest scores make me a ‘butt in’ and a ‘problem solver’. When you find out yours make some comments and action points to help you improve. Are you? 1. The pretender – nod, make eye contact but your mind is somewhere else 2. The butt in –find it hard to allow the speaker to finish and signal you are anxious to speak 3. The Assessor – You find yourself judging the speaker connecting to content from your own framework and find it hard to feel empathy 4. The Hanger- You use the speakers words to activate your own memories and associations, allowing you to speak about things that are often unrelated 5. The disapprover – You listen mainly to find points to debate and disagree with. 6. The problem solver – Your goal is to give advice and solve problems
I hope you enjoy these exercises, please drop me a line if you want to share or give feedback.
Next time we will look at how to inspire others.