(Originally posted at Absolution Mediation)


I spend a lot of time listening these days.  I have to tell you, it's awesome.  I also am starting to write a fair amount about listening on this blog and on Twitter as well.

So why do I spend time writing and speaking (ironic isn't it?) on listening?

Because there is a true art to listening.  There is an art in clearing your mind and focusing on someone else's words and imagery.  There is an art to giving someone your full attention and hearing their meaning behind their words.

I like listening because it can build bonds/relationships, it encourages trust, it gives people the opportunity to hear something that they have never heard before.  There is no agreement with listening, there is no competition, there is only sharing.  Sharing of words and experiences, the sharing of one person's meaning to the other.  The realization that all people interpret events and people's intents differently.

I like listening because it involves more then just their words.  It incorporates their body language, their tone/volume/cadence, it allows you to see a little more about the person.

These are just some reasons why I like listening to people.  It's an art, it is something you and I (are/should) always working on, it's something that can make or break relationships.

We  are taught from a very young age how to speak.  How we can become better at it, how we can really get our point across, how to tell a story, or how to present better.  But we never really teach people how to truly listen.

These are some reasons that I like listening.  These are some reasons why I talk and write about listening.

Do you have any tactics/words of advice to help others work on their listening skills?  Share them below!

[Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/karith/1121315723/]


Views: 153

Comment by Jeff Thompson on January 31, 2011 at 9:46am



Listening is a crucial element to being a successful mediator and well, successful [enter almost anything].


Often, and increasingly more, during public talks and trainings I emphasize the important of listening and getting people to consider how they listen.  You mention body lanuage and I agree with you.  What I find often is how it seems to be quickly glazed over (the training and actual time spent discerning actions and displays of "listening").


What helps me is reflecting on the notion of how I encode my listening displays and then evaluate if it is being decoded the way I intended.


Much like in golf and poker (I haven't played golf in 8 years and the later admittedly is something I enjoy heaps), listening is always a work in progress.  Just like how using the 1 wood or getting "Aces in the hole" can have have 10 different results in 10 trys dispite being "used the same way each time", the same is the case also for using effective listening displays.


As mediation includes human interactants, the only thing constant is change.  That said, there are key listening skills which are effective.  This includes:

  • nodding
  • eye contact
  • forward leans
  • utterances (uhh-huh, mmm, etc)

The crititical point here is utilizing the heuristic model of learning (which I find to be very effective for mediation) which is for each person to try it out and apply themselves.  Yes, the above points have help me many times, yet I apply them uniquely and at the right time (random- the study of 'time' is called chronemics!). 


Each person has to apply it uniquely for their situations... and then share it with others to increase the opportunity for everyone to learn! :)



Comment by Jason Dykstra on January 31, 2011 at 11:23am

Jeff, I appreciate your added comments!  Also, thanks for including some of the key listening skills that you find work effective for you.  I'm sure others will benefit greatly from it!  

Listening is something that everyone can use to better themselves and the relationships that they are in (both personal and professional), it is a shame that more people have not focussed attention on that.  Being able to take in what the other person's words and body language are saying is a skill that will benefit everyone.  Thanks for your comments Jeff!


P.S.  I love poker as well!

Comment by Adina on February 7, 2011 at 11:59am

As you mentioned, listening is an art, and it is  also  a skill to be  develop. When you are really listening you are not thinking about anything else. Good listeners have the ability to listen without the urge of answering. A good listener takes the conversation seriously and respectfully. You are not really listening if you have a reply for every single phrase!

Adina Schuller

Comment by Jason Dykstra on February 7, 2011 at 2:01pm


Thanks for your comment.  I especially like, "A good listener takes the conversation seriously" I think too often we don't take it serious, and those actions will always come across to the person who is talking.  Thanks for your input.

Comment by Adina on February 8, 2011 at 11:20am
 OK, I will ask a question open to everyone who would like to answer: do we listen objectively or subjectively?
Comment by Jason Dykstra on February 8, 2011 at 11:45am
I think we need to listen both objectively and subjectively.  If we only do one then we will be missing out on some of the key factors that might be happening with the people we are listening to.  We will miss some of the things that Jeff talked a bit about in the comments below, I think.  That's my opinion though.


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