Coffee Conversations Ep. 3: The Five Listening Skills

June 09, 2020
  • Bob Chapman
  • Bob Chapman
    CEO & Chairman of Barry-Wehmiller

I’d like to share something written by David VanderMolen, formerly one of our professors in Barry-Wehmiller University.

The Way of Listening 

We live in a world where very few folks take the time or invest the effort to extend themselves to truly listen to others without judgment or intention to alter their views.

In general, we neither know how to listen nor do we have the maturity to accept the feelings and thoughts of others, especially if their views or values differ from our own.

If we as a people here on this planet were to learn how to listen and we were to invest ourselves in the practice of listening to the people who are in our immediate span of care, our family and friends, a change for the good would occur.

If we were to push that same practice out beyond the borders of our loved-ones to listen to those who seem on the surface to be wildly different than we are; we’d likely learn we have much more in common and have way more similarities than differences and a change for the good would occur.

Listening, truly listening to people, affords the one being listened to the unique opportunity to touch the divine. Think of it, when we are listened to we become a recipient of acceptance, unconditional positive regard and genuine empathy which is a shadowy reflection of how most faiths describe God’s constant posture towards all people here on this planet. Listening to others is remarkably akin to loving others. If people experienced a touch of the divine and legitimate love, a change for the good would occur.

We could be much better for each other. We could be healing each other. We could be mending broken hearts into wholeness. We could be fixing alienation by finding affinity with each other. We could be learning how to live, love and lead from each over feuding with each other. If we were to pursue this, a change for the good would occur.

There could be a real change for the good... We could be a real change for the good if only we learned to live the way of listening to each other and with other.

David is the host of our Coffee Conversations video series, created to share our internal leadership training with the world in a creative and memorable way. I encourage you to watch this week’s episode through the link above and practice the skills David shares. You will experience a significant impact in your life and those around you.

Here's more from David on this episode:

The secret to effective listening is to have a big net with really small holes.

This is a powerful metaphor on listening, especially when you consider that most people rarely listen. If they
attempt to listen, metaphorically speaking, their listening net is likely to be small with very large holes in it. Which means they have poor listening skills.

Listening isn’t doing nothing; it’s doing something -- something very specific -- in service to others. That something very specific is the Five Listening Skills:

Attending Behavior. This is about focusing your presence and person on the other person. It’s behaving toward the other in such a way that they know they have your undivided attention -- it’s your full presence absent of distraction.

Acknowledgements. The second skill in listening involves both the verbal and nonverbal messages we give to the other to prove to them that we are paying attention and tuned in to what they are expressing.

Door Openers. While listening to the other share, it may make sense to offer a statement or two that encourages the other to continue to talk or share.

Silence. Perhaps the hardest skill to master. Silence is about being quiet -- saying nothing and quieting the chatter in our own minds so we can catch all the other is expressing.

Reflective Response. Our effectiveness with this skill is dependent on how skilled we are with the other four skills because this is about sending the other back the facts and feelings they expressed to you. It’s the only proof the other has that we were truly listening.

To effectively listen to others, you must practice the five listening skills. When these skills are practiced, you will make a big net with small holes that enables you to catch more of the messages others are sending and better serve others who need your help

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