Three Ways to Listen

How do You Listen?

We all listen. Those in the coaching business must learn how to listen to help clients gain insight and reach new goals and heights in personal development.

This blog may give insight into how we listen and how our listening skills affect those around us.

Casual listening is the type of listening we usually use when conversing with another person. This type of listening is somewhat scattered since we typically think of our response to the other person while they are still talking. Nevertheless, we all do it, and sometimes this form of listening results in the listener interrupting the speaker. We actively participate in the listening process by preparing a retort or response to what the speaker is saying. For example, the other day, I heard a group of teenagers all talking at once, interrupting each other, and changing the subject at a moment’s notice. There were all happy and excited. Perhaps a few key ideas might be communicated in this exchange. The exception would be for emotional excitement expressed by those in the group.

Active listening aims to elicit information relevant to the proposed result. Many professionals, including anyone from a salesperson to therapists, may be trained in this style of listening

Active listening, ostensibly, may include open questions such as, “How do you usually deal with …?” and follow-up probing questions like “Why do you think ...?”. Then the interviewer might paraphrase the interviewee’s responses to ensure the interviewer got the essence of the answers. Next, examine the message, expand on it, correct it and reflect on its implication. By reframing or paraphrasing, the interviewer shows message has been heard and received accurately. Paraphrasing is the cornerstone of active listening.

The interviewer then might follow up with the What, Where, Who, How, and When questions.

Further questions can reveal a deeper understanding of the interviewee’s ideas, mindset, and motivation. It is not my purpose to give a complete description of this listening technique but only to identify it as used by professionals when they are interviewing

Mindless listening is the most elegant form of listening. It refers to ancient Chinese Philosophers who encouraged their students to be Mindless in their activities. In Asia, mindless does not mean what we might envision in the Western World. Sometimes a meditation method is called having no mind. What does that mean? It calms your mind and quiets the constant chatter. It removes thinking about the next clever comment or the next question. Mindless discussions are those in the moment, stay in the moment, and do not project into the past or future.

Who uses these listening techniques? 

Casual listening is the one we all use when in public or having a discussion where each one can interject their thoughts. 

Active listening is the method many therapists and coaches use to try and understand just where the patient or client is bogged down.

Mindless listening is the art of staying in the moment listening for cues from the other party, and following the discussion without a preconceived idea of where it ought to go. This technique is an elegant and infrequently used way of listening. I believe it is a defining technique separating the best salespeople, coaches, and therapists from the herd.

For more information or to learn about Mindless Listening, call Jim at 559-285-0784

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