I recently interviewed expert and coach Oscar Trimboli on the subject of Developing Deep Listening Skills. Listen to the interview with Oscar Trimboli : Developing Deep Listening Skills

Listening is something I have struggled with over my life and throughout my career. I have had to practice listening and strive to become a better listener every day. The more I learn about listening and the skills associated with deep listening, the more I understand it is one of the most critical skills a leader can learn.

Deep Listening in the Deep Woods

When I think of deep listening, I am reminded of the hunting trips I have been on over the years. In the woods sitting in a tree stand, on a climber or in a box stand can be a place of solitude and a great place to practice listening intently. As you are hoping for your trophy deer, hog or turkey to walk out of the woods into a clearing you are on high alert and acutely aware of the surrounding sounds.

I have given all my attention to the sound of a broken twig, the swaying limbs in the trees around me with mounting anticipation that the noise was coming from my targeted hunt. Once I got really excited as I heard the shuffling of leaves behind me, as the noise got closer and louder I was on edge and expecting a big deer to appear at any moment, imagine my disappointment when a little armadillo came into view under me shoveling his nose through the fallen leaves foraging for his food.

Intently Listening to Others

I share this thinking what if we were as intent with listening to others? What if we listened with anticipation that they would share something with us that could be beneficial to both the speaker and the listener? What if each word or sentence had us leaning up in our seat and turning our ear giving someone deep listening? Not waiting with anticipation to respond but genuinely interested in what another human being has to say, desiring to understand their perspective.

So how can you and I practice deep listening skills. Let me share a few tips I have learned as I improve my listening skills:

Listen with compassion and understanding.

  • Seek to understand another human being and recognize their goals or their pain points.
  • Do not intercept the conversation with your own story.
  • Squelch the voice in your head.
  • Listen with your eyes.

Be open minded, in discovery mode.

  • Enter the conversation without prejudice.
  • Don’t be a know it all.
  • Assume you have no idea what they mean.
  • Listen to Learn.

Ask clarifying questions before formulating a response.

  • Train yourself to ask 5 clarifying questions before you give your response. Remember the 5 – W’s Who, What, When, Where Why? Use these to frame your question around the subject to get clarity and confirmation.
  • Sometimes listening is all that is required either you are there for support or your response would not add value to the other person and a response should be avoided or delayed for the appropriate time.

Remove distractions and focus on the individual.

  • Clear your mind and focus on what the other person is saying and why they are sharing this with you.
  • Remove any outside distractions, cell phones, computer screens, books, music etc.
  • Pay attention to the person speaking and not others in your peripheral view or the background.

Recognize where the person you are listening to is coming from.

  • Communication comes with many associated emotions: excitement, joy, love, gratitude, fear, hate, anger, hope, relief… recognize the emotion and listen and respond accordingly.
  • What is the persons behavior type and communication style?
  • You do not have to agree with someone to understand and listen to them and learn where their perspective.

Get the 5 Tips for Active Listening Infographic: 5 Tips for Active Listening

Brian Brogen, Build Yourself & Then Build Others!

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