Listening Works!

I dedicate this article to my unparalleled mother, Toby Litt. Her work as a communication specialist and spiritual guide continues to power and inspire me everyday. The name of her company was Listening Works.

Few of us have been taught to listen because so few of us have been listened to. 

First as children, then as adults… we live in a society of impatience, distraction, of multi-tasking and self-serving agendas. We are in such need to be heard, to share what we have to say, to explain our side of the argument-- to show what we know.  

We enter conversations with our point or angle in mind. Sometimes it’s as if you let the other person speak just so you can get your turn to say what you need to say. To be right or to win. 

When we don’t listen, we all lose. 

Did you know that most conflicts and challenges we experience are caused by ineffective listening which translates into miscommunication?

Yup, it’s true! 

So how do you know what kind of listener you are? Let’s take a look at the three levels of listening:

1. Subjective Listening: Also known as "selfish listening" because the listening is based on the agenda and needs of the listener. Whatever is said is heard through the experience of the listener. This type of listening rarely satisfies the person who is speaking.  

Speaker: I’m so upset that I missed my son’s soccer game. 

Listener: Yeah, I missed my daughter’s play once and I felt awful.

2. Objective Listening: Also known as "selfless listening" because the listening is completely focused on the speaker. There are no thoughts about how it relates personally to the listener and can be very effective. It allows the speaker to feel heard.

Speaker: I’m so upset that I missed my son’s soccer game. 

Listener: Seems like you’re really disappointed. 

3. Intuitive Listening: Also known as "powerful listening” because the listener is hearing all components and intuitively connecting with the speaker’s real message. The listener is not only paying attention to the words, but also tone, emotion, and energy, as well as what is not being said. This level of listening creates the deepest connection with the speaker. 

Speaker: I’m so upset that I missed my son’s soccer game. 

Listener: Being so upset is totally understandable. It seems like like you’re feeling really down on yourself about it and what it may mean about everything you are trying to balance right now.  

In life, we all listen at all the levels. After all, you’re human. But by being more aware, you can take steps to reach for those deeper levels. 

I will say this, to powerfully listen is to hear with the intention to understand. To powerfully listen we must be silent, we must be present in the moment, we must pay attention, we must be curious, we must be open-minded and vulnerable. And most importantly, we must kick our EGO to the curb.