We listen for facts (sometimes) and opinions (most of the time).

Often we’re listening for “what is she saying about me?!” but that’s another post entirely.

What if we listened differently? What if we listened for “What is this person trying to convey about what they believe?”

I recently asked a friend to tell me what he enjoyed about being a political candidate. He described the camaraderie of his team, the great energy of the people working on the campaign and how they would get together to brainstorm and problem-solve and make decisions. Sounds like fun, right? (And I have to admit that there is NOTHING about being a political candidate that has ever sounded fun to me!)

If we take this to a deeper level – what he’s saying is that he enjoys working on a team that has a shared purpose. It’s important to him. It’s part of what enables him be at his best. Now THAT’s applicable to any situation. As he thinks about what’s next for him (he lost his campaign), that’s important to know.

Asking about a success and then listening for (or asking about) the experience at a deeper level can be a very valuable exercise. It’s a different way of listening and it produces different insights.

This can also be a great journaling exercise for you to try. Write about a success you’ve had – make it a vivid description. Go back and review – at a deeper level – what things made that a success for you: Was it how the group worked? Was it the role you played? Were there certain skills or expertise that you got to use?  Even the schedule or where you worked can be a clue to what you believe and what you need to be at your best. Give it a try!