S3E17. Listening to Understand Vs. Listening to Respond

Do you listen to respond… or do you listen to understand?

In my introduction to improv, I realized I was not that great of a listener. This was largely due to my inflated ego. To be a good listener, you need to adopt the “Yes, and” philosophy. Instead of pulling a conversation away from somebody else and back onto yourself, you need to add to it. There’s no room for ego.

We all live in a culture of listening to respond because we believe what we have to add is more valuable or profound than whatever else anyone has to say. This is a limiting belief that holds us back from true collaboration and prevents us from being a truly great leader.

We can all strengthen our listening skills if we work on them every single day. When you do this consistently, you may hear a client, a customer, or a coworker say: “I’m not sure why I told you that” or “do you mind if I rant to you about a situation without judging, only listening?”

The other critical component in listening is empathy. Empathy is being fully present and listening deeply to understand what the other person is saying from their perspective. Make sure you are assessing how they feel in their shoes, not how you would feel in their shoes. Learning how another person feels is a critical part of becoming a better listener.

Active listening is hard. It takes intention, time, and effort. Start working on strengthening your listening skills every single day. As each day passes you will become closer to becoming a better listener, developing better relationships, and having more significant impact on the world.