Become a great listener in 10 weeks!

Train your mind for unconventional approaches in 10 weeks

We all think that we are reasonably good listeners. At least I do. I think I’m a very good listener. And I judge other’s ability to listen much lower than my own. After all, I coach people, so by definition I’m a good listener, right? Wrong!

We all think we are ok ourselves when it comes to our ability to listen. At the same time, we are convinced that others have a lot to learn in this area. Other people are the problem and should do something about their listening skills.

People wildly overestimate how good they are listening to others. Research by Accenture in 2015 revealed that 96% of all global professionals consider themselves good listeners.

The reality: in my trainings I include some simple yet confronting exercises about listening to some very basic information. And although the task in these exercises is simple (“Listen well and ask questions to further deepen your understanding of what the other person is saying!”), people don’t succeed to stay very long at the task. Their attention drifts, they pretend to listen, they start to bring in their own stories, or they start to publicly attack this exercise as stupid as it is “not real”. These are all mechanisms to get away from something we find incredibly hard: really listen to somebody else.

Some people in these trainings fail the exercise, and then start proving to me that they actually did listen very well, but that I did not pick that up well. One question is enough to quickly make them return to real life: “Can you summarize the feedback I just gave you?” The summary is often incorrect and contains the listeners’ version of what they think I said. Not what I really said.

We all have ears, and for the vast majority of us, our hearing capability is functioning well. We hear very well, but we fail to listen very well when we forget to process the information received by our ears.

Learning to listen

In courses, blogs, podcasts, newspaper articles and on-line media we can find many advices for how to be a better listener. The list includes:

• Sum up what you heard
• Nod for understanding
• Repeat the words of the other person
• Adjust your rhythm to theirs
• Maintain eye contact

Now these advices – although they sound solid – are crap. They make you pretend you are listening, turning the conversation into a very artificial event. As Celeste Headlee explained to me in one of my podcasts, the problem is that when you observe very good listeners, they will do all the above. But you can’t reverse engineer this and say that when you do these things, you will automatically be a good listener. Even more: if you focus on showing all these behaviors, you are not listening but role-playing: your listening act becomes artificial and inauthentic. You are ‘performing’ listening, rather than really spend energy listening. After all, supposed you would be listening very well, then there would be no point in showing these behaviors, right.

This brings me to something I strongly believe in, and which was confirmed to me by Laura Janusik in the same Clarity in Conversations podcast series: listening is not a skill, it is a mindset. We all have the skills to be very good listeners, but when we’re not in the right mindset, we don’t listen. Our mindset (characterized by curiosity, understanding and empathizing) is what we need for great listening: the behaviors will follow.

In other words, I can’t teach you to be a better listener by training the above behaviors with you. You’re not a dog that is supposed to please others performing tricks. But I can work with you to gradually change your mindset, and gradually open up and listen better. So that’s what I propose we do.

The offer

I assembled my insights into the mindset hacks that help you to listen better and summarized these into 10 lessons. These lessons I’m going to share with you in the 10 weeks to come, one per week. For free.

Why for free? Sharing insights is not what I’m earning my living with. And I’m interested to start sharing these insights and see what happens when multiple people start practicing.

When you subscribe to the listening challenge mailing list at the bottom of this article, for the next 10 weeks you will receive a weekly article in your mailbox, explaining the rationale behind one of the listening mindset tips, and an assignment to bring into practice. These assignments are not time-consuming, but they require practice. And I know from own experience that practice of these 10 tips leads to remarkable results. These results I invite you to share in the listening challenge facebook group that I created, especially for this purpose.

After the 10 weeks, you will receive an eBook, based on the 10 articles. Also, for free.

What to do to sign up?

Leave your name and email address here below. Further assignments, articles and challenges will follow in your mailbox right away.

This is for free, there are no obligations. You will be subscribed to my newsletter, to which you can unsubscribe any time. No strings attached.

Join the group. I’m committed to sharing my insights and learn from your reactions to the weekly challenges.

Train your mind for unconventional approaches in 10 weeks

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