THE ART OF LISTENING…By [Maria Gamb] [Change Agent Article]

By on March 7, 2011

7 Steps to Mastering The Art of Listening…Beyond Your Ears

Sitting in her office with the senior manager on her team, Harriett looks through her glasses and begins to fiddle with her pencil.

“If we try to resolve this problem in another manner, I’m sure it would be more beneficial to everyone around us”.  Harriett begins to drift off into her thoughts of the meeting the day before where tempers had flared and she felt completely uncomfortable and out of sync with what was going on.  “If we can roll out the strategy…” the woman continues, mapping out a plan on a blank piece of paper.  Harriet’s thoughts are far away. Her mind roams to her own fear in regards to her standing in this business. She begins to wonder if she’ll ever feel like she knows what she’s doing. Moreover, will anyone realize what a great job she does? Ever? She sighs heavily, clearly off in her own thoughts.

“Harriett, are you there?  Did you hear me?”  “Yes, yes….of course” she smiles at the woman “I’m listening.”

But is Harriett really listening? Are you really listening to others around you?

Possibly, like Harriett, off in your own thoughts, fears, wants and desires and not really completely present for those that are talking to you. You may be listening with your ears but are you listening with your other senses? This is the art of listening from a much higher level.

There are 7 characteristics of a good listener;

1) Never interrupt

2) Create a sense of physical proximity to the person speaking to you without invading their personal space. i.e. stand or sit directly in front of them

3) Practice empathy and avoid criticism or any tone or words that could be perceived as patronizing.

4) Observe their body language. Notice if they are distracted, agitated or relaxed. Take notice of your own body language as well. Remain relaxed and neutral.

5) Share your own personal experiences but not too much or too soon in the exchange.

6) Be aware of the context of the person’s life – it will help you understand their perspective faster.

7) Allow yourself to listen not just with your ears and mind, but with your heart and spirit (intuition). Trust your intuitive guidance in your gut.

As a leader you must be able to identify and fulfill the needs of your people and/or clients. The art of listening fulfills the need for cooperation.  In cooperation a person/people need to be heard.

If you agree with what is being said or not is not the objective. The objective is to allow the individual in front of you openly express themselves, to be treated with respect in that expression and to be responded to in an appropriate manner.

Even if your answer if “no”. This is one of the foundational principles in building trust with those around you.  Written by Maria Gamb

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