What is Your Level of Listening?

By David Womeldorff & Donna Zajonc. Reposted from TED*.

Are you a good listener?

According to a recent business survey, even though people are frequently texting and checking their email when talking with others, a majority feel they are still good listeners.

People say they are good listeners, but don’t feel others listen to them.

Consider these questions about your own listening:

  1. Do you pretend to listen, waiting for the moment you can jump-in and make a point?
  2. Do you finish other people’s sentences?
  3. Do you redirect the conversation back to yourself?
  4. Do you predict what others will say, justifying your interruptions?
  5. Do you listen with assessment, deciding what is said is right or wrong and whether you agree or disagree?

In other words, is your listening all about you?    The above statements are indicators of what is called Level 1 listening.  We refer to this level as “Listening for Problems and Being Right” because you are often listening for what is wrong with what the other is saying.

When information sharing is about you, the next step is to compare and decide who or what information is right.  If you listen for who or what is right or wrong, you will be listening only for information that supports your point of view.  This communication pattern, or lack of communication, fuels and keeps the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) going.

When you listen in Level 1 you are listening for how what is being said affects you, which makes it almost impossible to create empowered and trusting relationships that are the basis of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)®.

Relating to others as Creators, and through the TED* roles of CreatorChallenger and Coach, requires an upgrade to Level 2 and 3 listening, which supports TED* and collaborative and empowered relationships.

Beginning in Level 2 listening, the focus moves away from you and shifts toward the other person.  You become genuinely interested in what is being said which nurtures a deeper connection and partnership between people.

The following are characteristics of these more conscious and deliberate ways of listening.

Level 2—-Listening for Possibility

  • Attention is on the other person;
  • Attachments or judgments are reduced;
  • You become curious about the other and open to new perspectives; and
  • The prospect of collaboration and trust takes root.

Level 3—-Listening for Innovation and Creativity 

  • Focus is on other person within a larger context, sensing what is being said or not said;
  • You become fully present to body language and the energy in the room;
  • You activate and trust your intuition; and
  • Empowerment and collaboration flourish at this level.

When you feel deeply listened to, you don’t worry about being judged or filter your thinking.  Instead, when someone is listening to you at Level 2 and 3, you feel free to sort things out for yourself and clarify what is important to you as a Creator.

Listening in this way allows the other person’s thinking to proceed more quickly and with less energy from you or from them.  It is the natural creative flow—our true essence as human beings.   When you give your undivided and authentic attention to another, you become a catalyst for their Creator to emerge.

You cannot control how others listen to you.  All you can do—and it is a very big thing—is give the gift of listening to others.

People tell us all the time they don’t have time to listen.  Ask yourself, can you afford not to listen and deeply connect with others?

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