Ever notice how often we seem to miss each other? Your partner, coworker, employee or kiddo says something and you realize you really did not catch what they said at all. If your response is too often, “huh?” or “could you repeat that?”, then this message may be for you.
It is not easy or passive to listen well. Listening more than to "just respond" requires us to be fully present; not trying to multi task, and certainly not looking at our phone while someone else is talking to us.
Listening must be an activity where you are present and actively participating- this allows for hearing the message as well as enhancing trust and safety in relationships.
So listen up, here’s the 3 Levels.
1. Barely Listening- in level one listening, you are actually listening to enough of the message to think of your response. This may cause you to interrupt, cut people short, or it may feel like to the speaker you are not really there with them. You are barely listening.
2. Present and Actively Listening- This level of listening requires you to stop multi tasking, put your phone down and actually engage with the person. You are in the same room, face to face, and really hearing this person’s message. You might ask a question back, or ask for further clarity if needed. You respond only when you are certain the speaker is done. This level is helpful and breeds trust and safety.
3. Intently and skillfully Listening. This level of listening takes level 2 one step further. You are now so present you are tuning in to reading the person’s body language, noticing their tone as well as their message, and even noticing perhaps what they are not saying. At this level you can enhance relationships as you are essentially listening with both your eyes and ears. People on the other end of you will experience you as truly engaging with them and being in tune with them.
Most of us get stuck in level one listening. We often don’t have modeling for great listening. We may have grown up in a family where the only way you were heard is if you talked the loudest. It takes wisdom, patience and practice to learn to listen at levels 2 and 3.
While most people don’t have the time or patience to be a constant level 3 listener, it is important to have that skill set since communication is the lifeblood of relationships.
A lot of disconnect and misunderstandings occur both at home and in the workplace because not enough people practice the art of listening.
Try level two listening at your next opportunity. See what you notice as a result. Model what this looks like so others in your workplace and at home can notice that something has shifted, in a good way.
And think of all the time you’ll save by not having to ask, “can your repeat that?”
Today give the people in your world the gift of your time and attention by actively listening. Watch your relationships grow and blossom.