June 2, 2015

A Recipe for Deep Listening


Serves 2
2 Ears
2 Eyes
1 Open Mind
1 Open Heart
Strong Desire to Connect

There are different types and levels of listening, and not all are created equal. There’s shallow or disconnected listening, where we hear what the other is saying, but only as it’s associated with our own opinions and agendas.

Deep listening requires a level of intensity, intimacy and presence. There’s no multi-tasking involved and we consciously eliminate distractions and diversions. When we listen deeply, we focus on what is being said and how it’s being said – to the words along with the feelings and needs behind those words. Listening deeply allows us to remember important details in the discussion, to connect on a meaningful level and build trust with the other person.

CLEARING. To practice deep listening, clear your mind of assumptions, preconceived notions, past experiences and future expectations. Take five deep breaths, counting to six on the inhale, holding for a count of three, counting to six on the exhale, and expelling all air so your abdomen meets your spine. Breathe just before or at the very beginning of your conversation.

SELF-TALK. In your own mind, tell yourself that your full attention to the other person in this moment is your gift of time and has the power to heal any suffering, transform your relationship, and release creative energy between you.

BODY LANGUAGE. Make direct eye contact and turn your body to face the one who is sharing. Get curious about what they’re saying and uncover the values they hold dearest. Resist your temptation to jump in with a similar story or to complete one of their sentences. Relate nonverbally by nodding and mirroring their facial expression and body language.

Deep listening serves both the speaker and the listener. It is a rare experience to give and receive undivided, unconditional attention with the intention to connect, build understanding and trust in the relationship.

Lee Broekman is a communication coach and trainer. Her company Organic Communication, brings interactive, never boring, always edifying professional development presentations, programs and CLEs to your firm or organization.