Listening Generously: The Impact of Listening

Your Listening Always Has an Impact

The first work is to have people wake up to the fact that how they’re listening always has an impact, and that’s what we’re mostly not responsible for. For the most part, we don’t walk around with an appreciation for the impact that the way we’re listening at any given moment has both on what we hear and what the other person says. 

A Closed Listening Has a Negative Impact

And so, we do a little exercise that lets people have that direct experience, and it’s like, whoa, you know, the way I am listening–like, if I give a really very closed listening to somebody, not a very generous kind of, stingy, you know or however you want to talk about it. But then, what will happen to the other person is it’s going to be hard for them to talk to me, and their thoughts aren’t going to be–it’s hard to think of the times when you’ve talked to somebody who wasn’t really listening or giving you much listening and how hard it is to even think straight let alone get your words to come out well. And then the impact it has on you in terms of how you feel about that person in that moment at least. And it has all kinds of impact, and yet if I talk to somebody who really has this big open listening, who’s curious and interested, it draws me forward. I often will see things I didn’t even think about or appreciate about what I’m sharing about that come forward as a result of the impact that listening is having on me. 

A Big Eye-Opener

And however you’re listening, it’s always having an impact. You walk into a meeting, and you sit down like, “This boring meeting again. I can’t believe this.” And then here you go into your closed listening. That’s having an impact on the quality of the very meeting you’re complaining about being a terrible meeting. You’re now a part of–you are complicit in the quality of this meeting. But you don’t–we don’t normally notice that, and we don’t normally appreciate taking responsibility for the impact of how we’re listening. So, that’s a big eye-opener once you get that. 


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