How Well Do You Listen?
Jill thinks of herself as a good listener. She claims
she hears and understands what is being communicated. She says she
hears what her colleagues say and adequately responds to what is said.
Jill really missed the boat by placing too much emphasis on the literal
verbal messages. Jill listened selectively for the information that she
was looking for. She often missed the communications given by voice
tone, inflection, and body language. She rarely thought about what
information her employees selectively left out which is a strong and
vitally important communication.
Healthy Listening Requires More than Just Hearing the
Listening or being attuned means being open to the
verbal, and nonverbal messages as well as thinking about the
information that is excluded. Fair listening means knowing how your
values and standards might also affect your ability to absorb the
entire message. You must be fully present in your listening. This means
that if you catch your self drifting to a day dream of thinking what is
being said is boring or stupid, then you need to bring yourself back to
concentrating of what is the complete message. Try listening without
your pre-conceived conclusions and judgements. Your colleagues and
friends often can sense when you stop being attuned. Without any of
this being addressed others can feel misunderstood no matter how
positive the verbal message.
Listening for the purpose of better understanding is
different from listening for specific information. A salesperson
listens for objections and tries to figure out what response will be
given while he or she is listening. Listening is selective and goal
oriented by a salesperson. If you have ever had a friend or spouse, who
kept on pitching you when at home, you know that selective goal driven
listening has its place but does not promote unity or understanding.
Someone who tries to "sell" himself or herself or be right by selling
their ideas can appear insecure. Listening to be right or to win an
argument is not listening that helps develop trust at home or morale at
Listening for Understanding Checklist
__ Listen with out judgement or drawing conclusions
before you have all the information.
__ Recognize what situations call for selective
listening and what situations would benefit from compassionate
__ Evaluate the verbal messages as well as body
language; note conflicting messages.
__ Stay attuned with active listening using full eye
__ Don't be afraid to show some emotion in response to
what is being said.
__ Ask for feedback from the speaker about whether or
not you understand what they have communicated.
__ Note what information is left out.
Effective team players and leaders listen to understand,
not speak to be understood. Listen more and talk less. Your coworkers
will listen to you when they perceive you are open to their
contributions to you or your organization.