Do you consider yourself a good listener? What would your partner say? Your friends? Your children? Your direct reports?
According to author and negotiation expert, William Ury, listening is important for three reasons:
- Listening helps us fully understand the other side.
- Listening helps us connect.
- Listening to another makes it more likely the other will listen to us.
It’s not just that we listen, but how we listen that matters.
How do I listen to others?
As if everyone were my most revered Teacher
Speaking to me
His/Her cherished last words.
Consider the following levels of listening:
Level One: Ignoring
I’m blatantly rejecting your request for my attention.
Level Two: Pretend Listening
I’m listening to you but I’m distracted with my own thoughts. I don’t really hear you. In this situation, it’s really all about me.
Level Three: Selective Listening
I’m listening for what’s interesting or relevant to me.
Level Four: Self-referential Listening
I’m listening to you, but I will nudge the conversation so that it becomes about me. In this situation, I will make sure it becomes all about me.
Level Five: Fix-it Listening
I’m listening to you but I want to fix your issue by myself. In this situation, it’s still really all about me, but in relation to you.
Level Six: Deep Listening
I’m listening to you with my full attention—the deepest and most respectful quality of my listening. I want to understand better who you are and what your experience is. In this situation, it’s all about you.
- Enhance your self-awareness by completing the Listening Self Assessment adapted from the Social Transformation Project (download link in the sidebar).
- Notice what levels of listening you most often engage.
- Choose a conversation to engage in as a deep listener.