Kindness and the Power of Really Listening
Do you know how sometimes you are in a conversation and the only thing you are thinking about is what you want to say next? Or you are listening and feel very engaged and it reminds you of something about yourself. Or maybe you are in a conversation and you are just not present and instead thinking about all of the other things that you need to do.
Occasionally this listening may be appropriate but more often than not it leaves the other person feeling unsatisfied in the conversation.
Listening is a skill that needs to be practiced and does not come naturally to many of us.
As a coach I was trained to practice different levels of listening often referred to as the three levels of listening.
Level 1 listening is what I describe above. It is internal listening and good for situations when your opinion is crucial to the conversation, the conversation is about you, or you are focused on driving the agenda. Often level 1 listening can include judgment about the situation or circumstances.
Level 2 listening is focused listening when you are completely focused on the other person. You may ask questions like, “Tell me more” or “What do you mean?” You are curious and in service to the other person. You champion the other person and want to see them succeed.
Level 3 listening is global listening where we are aware of the person speaking, our surroundings, the mood, and our intuition to help guide us in our listening and be aware of everything that is present for the conversation to reach its highest level. You might use your instincts to name the mood and honor the other person and their expressions. Level 3 listening is listening to tone of voice, body language, intuition, and really seeking to understand the person and what they are conveying and not just their words.
Level 2 and Level 3 listening take practice.
I learned recently that we think much faster than we speak so we have a very low probability of actually saying what we mean. And so often when we are speaking decisions will be made based on the words we say instead of taking the situation into consideration or even being asked for more details.
In order to practice moving a conversation from Level 1 to Level 2, next time you are with someone, instead of sharing your opinion, say, “Tell me more.”
These three words can relax the speaker, show you are interested, and create space to learn more about another person and the topic. The other person will feel great that you made space to listen to them.
If you are ready to practice Level 3 listening, focus on the entire situation. What is the person saying and also how are they feeling? What is the mood in the room? What other circumstances are important to know? If you are in a conversation with low energy, maybe changing the environment would help the conversation. Try going for a walk or switching chairs.
I hope you find a way to practice Level 2 and Level 3 listening with someone this week. Please share your feedback. I would love to know how it goes.