Is anyone listening to you?

Not everyone is. You may feel as though the words you utter sometimes fall on deaf ground. As a leader and manager, improving your listening skills may not be top of your priority list but our increasingly hectic lives can lead us all to become a little sloppy in this department.

Alan Mumford’s quote sums this up:

‘It is so long since most of us began to listen that we probably regard it as a natural skill, yet observations of babies, and of managers, show that it is hearing which is natural and listening is not.’

Melanie Greene’s Inspire Transformation site is always a rich source of inspiration. She recently posted some thought-provoking ideas on how you can improve your listening skills and identified five different levels:

Level One: Affirming

When you’re listening to what the other person is saying, whether through non-verbal or verbal language.

Level Two: Arguing

At this level you feel comfortable stuck in your ‘own world’. And so you listen only to put across your own view of things and, if necessary, you’ll argue for it.

Level Three: Understanding

At this level you’re trying to relate to what the other person is saying. You’re wanting to reach a level of cognitive understanding, but this can mean you’re thinking through and analysing what they are saying but not really listening to everything they say.

Level Four: Solving a problem

This is where you’re listening just to make someone feel a bit better. Again, you can be occupied with trying to solve their problems that you fail to really see what is there.

Level Five: Just listening

At this stage you’re like a video camera, taking in everything you see and hear, without judgement; you’re allowing your unconscious mind to see, hear and feel more clearly. This creates space for your intuition to work and for new insights to occur.

Improve your active listening skills

Our Management Skills for Senior Teams Programme explores your capabilities