Active Listening – What if you could be at Level 5?

“Are you listening to me?” After a slight pause I respond with a hesitant “Yea, of course I am”. My wife then takes the pin straight out of the hand grenade and hits me with, “What did I just say then?” I try desperately to put the words I think I’ve just heard into a logical sentence that would get me out of jail, but sadly for me, I fail miserably!

One of the main culprits of a communication breakdown is when one, or both parties simply don’t listen properly. You may feel as though you are listening intently, but it’s all about perception.  In my example above, I thought I’d done all the right things – I nodded and I even made random noises to demonstrate I was listening but something told my wife I still wasn’t listening properly.  Maybe it was the fact that I was playing with my phone or watching Sky Sports that proved to be the final nail in my coffin!

Where do you sit on the Listening Ladder?…

5 – Empathetic

4 – Attentive

3 – Selective

2 – Pretend

1 – Ignore

The PU View

If the perception of others is that you are at 3, 2, or 1 then there’s a good chance that communication will break down.  People’s perception of you will be that you are rude, bad mannered and in some cases, even ignorant.  Not great traits to have if you are trying to build solid relationships.

To be at 4 and 5 you need to treat the individual with respect and give them the ‘VIP Active Listening’ treatment –

  • Listen intently to what they have to say, picking up on key words/phrases and more subtle clues like their body language, tone and manner.
  • Acknowledge responses, ask relevant, open and probing questions.
  • Put your phone away! Give them your undivided attention, with full eye contact.
  • If needed, go somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed or become preoccupied.
  • Use gestures and positive affirmations (-such as nods, appropriate facial expressions etc.) to show you’re giving them your full concentration.

Despite the fact that this isn’t that hard, it’s surprising how many of us still go on ‘auto-pilot’ and assume that it’s okay to just select the bits we want to, or can be bothered listening to.

Book Recommendation 

A great book for improving your listening skills is; Active Listening: Improve Your Conversation Skills, Learn Effective Communication  by Joseph Sorenson.  It includes 6 essential guidelines that you can follow to improve your overall communication skills.

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