Listening, Love and Work

January 6th 2015

Listening is the most intimate thing you can do at work with your clothes on. The dictionary defines intimate as close and personal. When you are really listening, you’re as close and personal with another person as you may ever be. Truly listening can alter the course of your relationships. Like all of the so-called soft skills, listening is also good business, because it will improve your team’s cohesion, trust, and effectiveness.


Don’t you wonder, then, why we seem to be living in a world that isn’t listening? At least three things get in the way: 

  • Distraction - In addition to the endless chatter in our own heads, technologies and humans interrupt conversations. Constantly.
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  • Lack of practice - Like anything, you become a better listener when you practice listening. Seems obvious, but practice gets lost in the daily crush of distraction.
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  • Ego - The most difficult obstacle to overcome. We subordinate ourselves to the other person when we are truly listening. If you’re crafting your response to what someone is saying while they’re saying it, you need more practice in releasing your ego.
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The great news is that listening is a learned behavior, which means we can improve. Here are a few tools I find useful:

  1. As my mama always said, remember that you have two ears and one mouth. Use them proportionately.
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  3. Listen without distraction. Put your phone away and tear your eyes from your monitor. 
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  5. Look at the other person, not around them.
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  7. Get comfortable with silence and pauses — yours and the other person’s.
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  9. Be brave. Listen without knowing what you’re going to say next.
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  11. Listen without judgment. Keep your mind open and still.
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Listening is an act of love, even at work. Listening to people — like loving them — acknowledges they exist, makes them know they have been heard, and fundamentally recognizes their place in your life. 


And you never know what you might learn in the process.


communication, leadership, management, listening, professional development


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Carol LeBlanc
01/07/2015 9:16pm
Listening is my favorite! I love what you wrote here. The part about subordinating ourselves to the other person is a powerful awareness. So we are vulnerable when we listen. Combine that with letting go of preparing our response and you get Wowza...presence and surrender. This is great stuff Melinda. I bow to you.