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November 28, 2011

Tip of the Week 

Insurance Against Mediocrity 

Powerful Listening - What to listen for

What is it:  Beyond being polite, powerful listening includes understanding what's said, what's meant by what's said, and the meaning of it all to the speaker.


Why it’s Important:  When fully heard and understood, people shift from defensiveness to engagement. Full engagement is required for your influence to count.


The Problem:  People don’t articulate well for 2 reasons:

  1. Lack of awareness about how they feel, what they want, or what’s really important. 
  2. Lack of language skills 

Experience + Vocabulary = Language


In the absence of understanding, anger, frustration, blame, resentment, martyrdom, etc. block your influence.


The Tip:  Listening “to” vs. Listening “for”

Select the easiest person with whom you communicate, i.e., the most supportive customer, your closest friend, a teacher you love. You can also select an easy conversation topic, i.e., the weather, weekend plans, the dinner menu, etc. Intentionally listen with focused attention beyond just hearing the words spoken. Feel concerns and reactions in both you and the speaker. Outwardly, ask for clarification or elaboration from the speaker, and inwardly ask the same of yourself.


Example: What’s for dinner tonight?

5 things to listen for

1.      What wasn’t said   Did she mention enjoyment?

2.      Things lacking (unmet needs)  Did she mention busy schedule, sacrifice, appreciation?

3.      Obstacles blocking the speaker  Did she mention lack of skill or resources?

4.      Assumptions  Did she mention doubts about ability, quality?

5.      Signs from the speaker that he/she understands you, too  Did she repeat anything you said or use your words?


The Benefit:  You will understand the speaker as a whole person which makes understanding what’s said effortless. The speaker feels your understanding and connection and then has the space to tell you more and to listen to you in return because your words will now be directly relevant to the speaker, as a whole person. As I always say, you can’t influence a person who isn’t listening to you.


4 things you'll demonstrate:

  1. Respect for the speaker as a person first, and then as a person with something to say.
  2. Commonality in the basic struggles and joys in life 
  3. Trust that you will care for the speaker's feelings since you've taken time to actually understand them now
  4. Reciprocity that naturally creates an interest in you, as a whole person, too


Related Article:  Communication Part 1 - Top 10

Related Tip:  Trust, Make Sense


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