Why it’s so hard to listen to others

You think you’re a good listener? There’s a high chance you answered this question with some form of ‘Yes’. We all think we are good listeners. A study among 8.000 American professionals revealed that almost everybody thinks their listening skills are better-than-average. Sure.

In this episode, my guest is Laura Janusik. Laura (Ph.D., M.B.A, CLP) is professor of communication at Rockhurst University, Kansas, Missouri. She works as a trainer, researcher, speaker and business consultant. Laura also used to be chair of the International Listening Association and has published a lot of research and insights internationally. She is a certified listening professional since 2010, and researches all topics related to listening skills in various contexts. Her motto is: “Helping the World to Listen: One Person at a Time…!”.

In my interview with Laura, we speak about listening skills. And then discover that listening not so much relies on ‘skills’, but that listening is more of a strategy. Something you set out and choose to do deliberately, rather than something you’re just good at or not. So, you may be a very skillful listener, yet hardly ever decide to deliberately use the skill in daily work. Recognise this?

Laura goes into the different styles of listening, and explains that these particular listening strategies are also the cornerstones of the ECHO instrument for listening (learn more at http://listeningtochange.com/). The difference between sensory and cognitive listening is explored, and Laura explains the best strategies we can use to ensure we really listen actively to what others tell us. Also, we will recall what Caroline Webb taught us in the previous episode: when we listen and we hear things that are identified as a threat in our brain, we switch off and go into survival mode. Exit listening.

Els de Maeijer (Fontys University of Applied Science) reflects on how context-dependent our listening is. The way we listen depends to a large extent on the context we find ourselves in. We end this episode of Clarity in Conversations with 3 concrete and practical tips to improve your listening strategies, in the office and at home.

For more information about the work of Laura Janusik, go to http://listeningtochange.com/, or visit her page on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurajanusikphd/.

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