#1 Effective Listening

Effective listening is the companion to disclosure. It is often overlooked and that is a major mistake. This is a competency that is well worth investing a lot of effort to master. It will serve you well in all kinds of relationships – from friendships and romantic relationships to work relationships. It involves:

  • Being able to get outside of yourself and your own needs to be available to others
  • Being truly curious about others
  • Really focusing on others, including eye contact and not being involved in other activities (particularly with little screens)
  • Suspending judgement until you have really heard and understood the other
  • Being able to reflect or clarify your understanding, so others realize they have been heard

That might sound like a lot, but it can rapidly become second nature with some effort. Some people are naturally good listeners and others aren’t. Either way, invest the effort because it will make all the difference.

Probably the most helpful principle in effective listening is from Steven Covey:


Fake Listening

There is lots of fake listening going on and it doesn’t fool many people. It does, however, seriously undermine relationships. It comes in a variety of forms, for example:

Waiting to Respond vs. Listening. This is really common and really damaging to relationships. The question is. “Are you really listening to the other with the intent to truly understand or o\are you waiting to be able to reply with what you want to say?”

Selective Listening. Selective listening is listening for specific topics, thoughts, feelings, etc. It isn’t about really taking in and understanding what is being communicated. It is about waiting to be triggered by something you are interested in or biased about.

Pretend Listening. This doesn’t fool many people. Pretend listening is when you might be nodding or making responses that sound like you are listening, but you are really not. It’s often given away by your eyes, which will not be focused on the other person because your mind is somewhere else.

Self-Oriented Listening. This one is tricky. This is where you relate something that someone is talking about to a similar experience or thought or feeling that you have had. That can actually be a part of effective listening or fake listening – mostly depending on your intent. Have you really heard the other person and are acknowledging common ground or arte you really mostly interested in talking about yourself. It’s sometimes a subtle difference.