Listening intently

I’ve come to believe the listening is an art and nobody can teach you to become a world-class listener over a webinar or a course (online or offline). Sure, the latter will help you understand the principles, practice, and application of listening but things change drastically when you try to do it yourself.

Part of the reason is we have a hard time analysing ourselves through a filter. For example, it’s hard to judge yourself during a conversation to see if you’re being a passive, selective, active, or intently listening. Just thinking about it would take you off the track! And that’s precisely why I’m not a fan of too much theory in this space.

The best coaches, psychotherapists, counsellors, and consultants (and even HR professionals) have developed their skills by using a simple parameter — they’re either listening or listening intently. That’s it! Anything else is basically a distraction, which means they simply aren’t “in the zone.” If you’re wondering what’s the difference, allow me to explain:

  1. Listening — when you’re focused on the words, emotions, and meaning of what’s been said.
  2. Listening intently — when you’re not just focused on the words, emotions, and meaning of what’s been said but also what’s not been said. You’re also asking yourself questions like “why is this person telling this to me?” and “what is making this a problem to being with?”

As you can tell, both forms requires deliberate practice but it’s the second one that showcases your mastery as a support professional. And if you are one, know that attaining mastery isn’t optional but a professional imperative. It’s about your clients, the ones on the other side who need you lend them your ears.

Our world needs this right now (amidst the COVID-19 and it’s side-effects) and the times ahead. I hope you are listening.

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