Listening Generously: The Fundamentals

Listen for the Contribution

I’m Marcus Bond, a senior consultant for The Collaborative Way, and today I wanted to share with you some of the fundamentals of Listening Generously. So, to start with, Listening Generously is listening for the value and contribution in what someone is saying. I mean, most of the time, almost always, when people speak they’re trying to contribute something. If you can listen for that, you’ll hear it.

Paying Attention

So, what’s so hard about that? Well, first of all the other key thing is paying attention. We’re often very, very busy in our heads and our minds. We get easily distracted. You know, we check out. We’re paying attention to something else. It’s very, very hard to listen generously and hear value and contribution when you’re checked out or distracted. So, you want to be able to practice and improve and increase your ability to pay attention. “How do you do that?” many people ask. Well, it’s really, really simple. It’s just to start to have the practice of paying attention to when you’re checked out, noticing you’re checked out, and then checking back in. And then the sooner you catch yourself and the sooner you come back, the more present you’ll be and the more you’ll be able to hear.

We Underestimate the Impact of Listening

So, that’s one thing. The second thing is also if we really even back up more in the context of how we tend to think about and hold listening–we really undervalue and don’t really fully appreciate the impact that listening has on what we hear. Oftentimes, we tend to think speaking is where all the power is, and it turns out that listening is just as powerful, if not even more powerful, more impactful than speaking. So, one thing we need to pay attention to is that we actually think that we’re hearing what’s being said. We don’t question is what I just heard what he actually said or meant or he or she meant, or is it is that actually how I’m listening that had me hear that in a certain way? And then, when you hear things in a certain way, it makes you feel a certain way. So, again le’’s take an example. S, let’s say I’m in a meeting with some work colleagues, and I put out an idea of how we can start this project or further the project that’s in existence already, and what happens is there’s a response from a colleague of mine, and I hear the response like they dismissed my idea and and maybe even feel put down now. How often would you question your own self and say, “Hey, I wonder if how I’m listening is actually affecting what I just heard and how I am feeling about what I just heard–and is that actually what their intent was?” Very, very important, very, very impactful.

Your Listening Impacts What People Say

So, the other side of the coin is that not only does how we listen impact what we hear, it also impacts what is said. So, there’s many situations I’ve been in where when I’m not giving good listening. For example, with my wife, she shuts down and won’t speak to me. When I provide her a very generous listing and listening for what she’s trying to say and how she feels and what’s the value that she’s trying to contribute, then her speaking ramps up, and she’ll tell me things she wouldn’t have told me before. Same thing at the office–I’ve had so many situations where people will just start telling you what’s actually going on with them and what’s actually happening on a project when they feel that there’s actually an open generous listening there. So, we cannot overestimate the impact that listening has not only on what is being heard but also what is being said. Thank you very much.



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