Who speaks, sows; who listens, reaps.
– Argentine proverb
What makes someone a good listener?
We hear a lot about the importance of communication. Most of us focus on the actual words we’re using or what we are hearing. In a conversation, you can both talk until you’re blue in the face, but if no one (especially you!) is listening, communication goes nowhere.
Listening…with intent and a little skill…is the key to great communication.
Start with tuning in to Advocacy AND Inquiry. Are you just stating your case or truly seeking clarity? Where you fall on the scale depends on the purpose and needs of the conversation.
Think of listening as a dial – tuning up from faux listening to epic listening as needed. Remember, it’s not just dialing up or down the amount of talking you’re doing, but really becoming active and engaged in the conversation.
These concepts are not either/or, but a continuum – balancing advocacy and inquiry; turning the listening dial up and down – finding the authentic purpose and connection in your conversations, which ultimately leads to building trust.
“The more carefully you listen, the more interesting the talk can be.” – Susan Stamberg
- Have you been specifically conscious of where you were on the continuum between advocacy and inquiry during a recent conversation?
- If you are focused on whether you’re practicing advocacy or inquiry, does it effect where you sit on the “listening dial?”
- Right now, which tool, “Advocacy and Inquiry” or the “Listening Dial,” is most helpful for you?
For a Deeper Dive:
- Productive Advocacy and Inquiry, an essay on Advocacy and Inquiry by Micki McMillan
- “Listen Up!: Face-to-Face,” episode #1 of an Only Human podcast series on listening from last fall.
- Becoming a Better Listener: Active Listening, some helpful definitions and steps for what we call “Focused Listening,” often a good practice to help you turn the dial from Faux to Epic.