Do you know the difference?
Waiting for your turn to speak, or, listening to respond, is what you do when you’re having an argument with your partner and you’ve latched on to the first thing they said, have a perfectly formulated rebuttal, and you’re just waiting for them to finish talking so you can say your piece and win the argument.
Listening to hear is when you truly want to hear what someone is saying. You park all judgement and lead with curiosity.
The difference between the two is massive, and we can feel it.
I posted last week about active listening but let’s take it a bit further and go through the 5 levels of listening.
We’ll work our way from the bottom.
Ignoring – The lowest level of listening – not listening at all
Cosmetic – Pretend listening. You might look like you’re listening but you’re completely distracted with other thoughts or ideas. For my fellow parents out there, this is the one we’re using when our toddler is telling us something for the 10,000 time and we go “WOW!” … but we’re not really paying attention. (Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about)
Selective – Only paying attention when we hear our name or something we like or agree with. It’s based on our needs/thoughts as a listener; everything is applied to how it affects us. We’re waiting for our turn to speak and we let our biases and judgements get in the way of hearing the actual message. This is what we’re using when there’s a conversation that we’re not interested in and then suddenly we hear our name and our ears prick up.
Attentive – Listening but not getting to the heart of the message. We don’t ask for clarification, we apply our own meaning and assume we understand. This is at play when someone is telling us something we think we understand and we quickly reply “yep, yep, yep, ok”.
Active (empathetic) – Listening in an attempt to fully understand the message from the speakers point of view. We suspend our thoughts and judgements, and show our understanding by asking questions; we are curious and open.
We move through different levels in different conversations at different points in time.
The difference between the people who are mostly at the bottom levels and those at the top is intent.
If you’re deep in an idea, thought or task and someone interrupts you, unless you make the conscious choice to stop and actively listen, chances are you’re sitting somewhere between ignoring and selective.
Think about it this way, if someone said to you, “I want to give you my full attention but I’m just in the middle of something, can I grab you in 30-minutes so we can speak properly?”, chances are, you’re feeling appreciated by that person because they actually want to listen to what you’re saying.
It’s a great behaviour to model to your team, your colleagues and your manager.
Want to learn how you can be a better listener?
Our next Effective Listening & Questioning session is on Tuesday 9th May. For only $300, you’ll walk away armed with the skills to be a better listener, and ask better questions. Places are limited and we’re only offering 3 of these sessions all year, so click here to secure your spot before you miss out.