How to train your listening skills?

The counterpart of Inquiry is Listening. As we are often in telling mode and we value doing over being, listening may not come naturally. I assume that we could all use the exercise below and repeat it from time to time.

I myself have to slow down, focus my attention and practice patience. I’m always tempted to jump in and add to the conversation and steer toward solutions. But when I don’t a deeper understanding may evolve and the other person can find their own insights and solutions.

Train yourself to listen

An interesting exercise is to set a timer for 5 minutes (that can feel as an eternity) and to ask the other to talk about what matters now. (Or prompt this exercise with any other question).

You are not allowed to interrupt, to suggest anything. You are there to “hold the space with your attention and presence” and to listen.

Even if you say nothing, you will influence what the other is telling. If the other person takes 5 minutes with another listener, their story and insights will change…
Next, switch roles.

What could you do to enhance your listening skills? Click To Tweet

This listening exercise needs an explanation why you do it and it needs to be safe. Your purpose could be to train your listening skills and/or to bond with your colleague. This can be done in teams (people split into pairs), or in threesomes with two listeners.

I’ve seen magic happen if you apply this within a team. It doesn’t take too much time but it changes the vibe for sure.

How well do you listen? What could you do to enhance your listening skills?

This is book post #56 – Part “YOU”

Here‘s the earlier post
Here‘s the next post

If you’re confused – please start with post #1 or check the Positive Power overview and read the Positive Agent Manifesto.

By the way, if you want to contribute to a positive workplace culture, check out my next open workshop on Positive Culture Change Leadership! Registration is available at a first come first serve basis.

Leaders, employees, consultants, citizens – everyone can make a positive difference from any position, without needing permission or resources from others. This blog will help you see positive possibilities and (re)claim your positive agency. Unstuck yourself and engage others via your interaction and actions. Transform into a positive organization where people and performance thrive.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Marc

    Hi Marcella,
    Thank you for sharing the “listening” exercise, indeed it is of added value when practised in a team. Learning to listen yourself in that way can be best done with peers or friends, no? Or did you tried this with customers as well?
    Referring to my NLP background it’s a quote from Milton H. Erickson that helps me in reminding to keep and hold my listening space. It goes like this “when i talk to YOU, it is YOU that I have in mInd” Beside that I try to build in silence, as frequently as I can, before the speaking start I ask my coachee or client ta take a moment of silence together.

    1. Marcella Bremer

      Wow, Marc, how wonderful that you start in silence with clients! As for the listening exercises, I personally do that with friends or peers. I sometimes use it in a workshop to help participants train their listening skills before we go to the actual culture change work.