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The Art of Listening or Rather Learning How To Listen

When was the last time somebody actually listened to what you had to say?

One of the core fundamentals for any facilitator is the ability to listen; an ability I would strongly argue is a core fundamental for anybody working with people.

Many studies show that we only pick up 25–50% of what people are saying but by honing our skills a little we can get closer to understanding the full spectrum of what is being communicated.

We at The Other Potential often talk about the 3 Levels of Listening; a framework I personally use on a daily basis both when talking with team members in a internal small meeting and facilitating a conference with a variety of people.

What are the 3 Levels of Listening?

1. Internal Listening

Often when we talk to people we tend to relate a lot; inner dialogs & emotions that we would love to share. Ever been in a conversation where somebody cuts you off after every sentence?

“Yeah, I’ve also been to Copenhagen!”
“Oh, yeah. We also ate at that place!”
“That was my favourite bar to go to!”

Internal listening can be great for connecting with people on first basis though when it comes to understanding where or what they want our relating thoughts tend to come in the way.

2. Active Listening

Active listening also referred to as focus listening is one of the more popular frameworks to be taught. By tuning down your internal dialog of references and the need to relate you gain the ability to listen to what is actually said.

One tends to hear the whole story and gives room to complete sentences. Thus giving the participant time to react and/or reflect over what they are saying instead of being cut off in their trail of thought.

Sometimes the best way of getting information from somebody is to sit quietly and wait rather than trying to evoke the answer. By actively listening you create both the comfort & trust for the one sharing but also gain the broader spectrum of what is being said enabling you to create assumptions & questions which you might have overlooked if you were to share your own experiences.

3. 360° Listening

By utilising not only our sense of hearing but also the rest of our senses we start reaching the stage of 360° listening. By gaining awareness of both one’s instinctual and intuitive consciousness you start deciphering what is being said around you.

Your eyes may notice that the person in front of you is more passionate about a subject than what they are actually saying or that another participant in the room is reacting to the story in a different way compared to the rest.

Listening to not only the words being said but also to the tone of voice or the tempo you may notice subtle hints that can lead you to uncovering hidden needs or opportunities in the group you are facilitating.


Learning the 3 Levels of Listening is a lifelong journey

I believe these skills of listening will open up opportunities to train other facilitation skills such as timing, maintaining energy & flow in groups & knowing when to intervene or not.

I hope this basic overview of the 3 Levels of Listening creates the desire to keep on developing your art of listening to the people you want to connect with in your lives.

Feel free to connect, discuss or share some examples where it was obvious that you or the other person was in of these 3 levels.

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