I have just finished the accreditation process for Navigational Conversations from Leadscape Learning. This is a workshop that introduces strategic coaching skills for leaders who want to take a coach-approach when working with others.
Not surprisingly, listening is the key element of the Navigational Conversations program. For a long time, I've felt that listening is the one skill that most of us should improve.
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who is distracted by something else that is going on and doesn't seem to be really paying attention to you? I know, probably not. But, it could happen!
The folks at Leadscape Learnbullhorning speak about three stages of listening that exist on a continuum of listening skills. At the low end of the continuum is what they refer to as tracking. In this stage of listening, we are engaged in a primary activity that supersedes listening. This is the listening that includes responses such as 'uh-huh, yup, okay, whatever, ...". Again, maybe you're not familiar with this situation, in which case I apologize for enticing you into this blog via the title.
However, for those who understand that the power in a conversation comes from the listening, read on.
In the middle of the continuum is a stage of listening where we are now focused on the conversation at hand. However, while we are listening, we are thinking about what is being said to us. We might be thinking of the next question that we want to ask, or we might be forming our response. We might even interrupt the other person by not waiting until he/she has finished speaking, so we can speak. In this listening mode, we run the risk that we won't pick up on all of the nuances in the conversation.
So, if you are bold enough to try something at home, here it is. Move to the far end of the listening continuum and practice being present. In this listening mode, we are listening with a quiet mind. We are intentionally not thinking up our next response. We are listening and observing. We are able to discern meaning from body language. We can pick up the essence of the conversation. We are simply being present.
Being present is a difficult listening mode to achieve and it is also difficult to remain in this mode. But it is a very rewarding skill to achieve. The person that is speaking to you will feel very connected and you will realize the power of listening.
Why not try it?