Level Up Your Listening

by Danielle N. Adams

ThinkstockPhotos-80402157Unless you live in a remote area like a rain forest in Costa Rica or a small fishing village in Antarctica, chances are that you communicate regularly with people in varying degrees of familiarity. We all know what it is like to feel adequately heard, but what if you are the bad listener because you don’t want to be part of the conversation you are in?

There are different levels of listening, like floors in a building. The first floor is subjective listening, where the listener only hears what is being said as it relates to himself or herself. On the second level, you have objective listening where the focus is on the speaker and the listener is attuned to the meaning of what is being said. In the penthouse, the highest level of listening is intuitive, where the listener perceives what is not being said or reads between the lines. And let us not forget what’s in the basement where the listener changes the subject or in the below ground parking deck where the listener is completely ignoring the speaker!

On average, most people engage in being subjective listeners because it feels like relating the conversation to your own experience shows that you understand the speaker. This is mostly false. Plus, what if you cannot relate or agree with the speaker? The acceptable compromise is in objective listening, and you’re about to learn a trick on how to do it in conversations you do not want to be engaged in.

Think of someone with whom you greatly dislike talking.

When you’re the audience, practice mirroring back what the speaker has said. For example, the dreaded office grumbler has cornered you in the break room and instantly begins complaining—ugh! (There is a technique to intrude without being rude effectively reducing the amount of time you must allow your ears to be treated like garbage receptacles, but that is a story for a different post!) Once the grumbler takes a breath, you say, “wow, [person’s name], I’m hearing you say [restate the problem in summary] and it is understandable that you would feel [validate the obvious feeling or emotion].”

Don’t feel compelled to offer a solution or even an apology necessarily. You may exit politely, or you can offer the grumbler an opportunity to resolve their own issue. You do this by inspiring belief in themselves: “[person’s name], given how passionate you are about this issue and your commitment to [refer to the company’s mission or department objectives, or even a characteristic of the person that you have observed], I am confident that you will find a solution that will be a fair compromise for everyone involved.”

Or if you wish to continue the discussion, ask an empowering open-ended question. By doing this, you have let the responsibility for a solution stay with the speaker instead of involving yourself in undue drama. By empowering choice and accountability in the other person, you are able to exit scene as an office hero, and maybe even have an improved attitude and relationship with the office grumbler!

Learn more about this and more at the annual conference in June when you attend the Powerful Communication session! You will learn to identify and overcome barriers to communication, develop communication strategies for transformative leadership, and how to use questions to gain clarity and reduce conflict.


Danielle N. Adams, founder and CEO (Chief Empowerment Officer) at QueenSuite LLC, a global personal development company dedicated to educating, inspiring and empowering professionals to create their ideal lives. She is committed to helping professionals all over the world experience confidence, happiness, success, balance and freedom in business and in life. Through training, coaching and mentoring, Danielle teaches professionals how to transform their mindset so that they can live powerfully and reach their big goals faster than they ever thought possible. She is a certified professional coach, trainer, facilitator, business and career writer, podcast host, and public speaker who hails from the Jersey Shore and has been a proud resident of the Lehigh Valley since 2007. Her areas of concentration in her coaching practice are leadership potential and business and career development with professionals, and she was recognized by NJ State Assembly Resolution as an esteemed member of her community.

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