Why I Teach About Active Listening

If you follow me on LinkedIn, you know I write and think and teach a lot about active listening.

Yet it can STILL be really hard to do!

There are so many reasons I love the concept and theory of active listening, and reasons I love to teach about active listening:

  • When you actively listen to someone, you connect more deeply with them.

  • It’s the ONLY way to concentrate to truly understanding another person’s perspective.

  • It demonstrates humility because it involves asking them if you understand them correctly, and if you do get it wrong, you just roll with it and try to actively listen again and ask them again - like a listening/asking cycle!

  • It’s applicable to SO many situations:

    • Client/customer work

    • Managing a direct report

    • Managing up

    • Working or volunteering with a team

    • Getting closer to a loved one

    • Learning what the heck your teenager is thinking

    • Trying to understand the point of view of someone whose beliefs are a polar opposite to you...

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Listen with Curiosity

Since going through my mediation training in 2018, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the hidden benefits of curiosity. When we are genuinely curious about other people, we can communicate more gently through any brewing conflicts or disagreements.

Work cultures where curiosity reigns tend to be places where conflict rarely feels like conflict. Disagreements happen, and they are seen as steps in a process - just a part of working together to create or improve upon a product, process, or service.

From my perspective, it’s easiest to be curious about others when we have some empathy for them, or a desire to understand them. Empathy is the social glue that holds any group of people together - we care about each other and share a desire to learn about each other.

When disagreements do happen, they may or may not become full-blown conflicts (even in the happiest of workplaces). One key to keeping disagreements from becoming conflicts is to listen with curiosity - to...

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2 Chances to Learn Online This Month!

I’m super excited to partner with PATHZ and Arkin Youngentob, a division of Risk Strategies, to bring you two opportunities to learn to be a better communicator in February.

What you can learn:

  • What active listening means

  • How to listen to understand

  • What curiosity has to do with conflict & communication

  • Go-to questions to ask when conflict is brewing 

 

First up:

Listen! Can You? Listening Skills for Better Problem Solving

Too often, we listen to others while doing something else: composing our response, judging their behavior, thinking about what to eat for dinner, etc. In this live, interactive webinar we’ll talk about what it means to actively listen. That means listening fully, focused on understanding the other person’s perspective, without judgment. This live, highly interactive webinar will include an opportunity to practice active listening with a partner - from the comfort of your own home! We ask that participants use video if...

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New Active Listening Resource!

At Chantilly Mediation and Facilitation, we are all about helping leaders create happier workplaces. Every day, I train managers and leaders on how to resolve conflict, build a happier workforce, and use emotional intelligence at work.

There are several keys to this work, but one of the most basic skills that can serve you well with coworkers, clients, and in your personal life, is active listening.

Active Listening

It’s hard to overstate the importance of an active listening practice at work! Get the guide here .

It’s hard to overstate the importance of an active listening practice at work! Get the guide here.

When I train on active listening, I do a fun exercise where I pair people up, one person gets to tell a story, and the other one has to summarize the story and guess at an emotion expressed during the story - it’s been a hit every time! (So far.)

Active listening because is key to building your empathy muscle, which is key to increasing emotional intelligence, which is basically all about our social interactions as humans. And, yes,...

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Listening is always active.

active listening quotes Sep 13, 2019

I came across a quote about active listening that I absolutely love! Michael Shurtleff, to whom the quote is attributed, was a legendary casting director. He wrote the bible for actors to learn how to audition for roles (it’s called, simply, Audition).

Listening is not merely hearing, it is receiving the message that is being sent to you.

Listening is reacting.

Listening is being affected by what you hear.

Listening is letting it land before you react.

Listening is letting your reaction make a difference.

Listening is active.

This encapsulates everything I believe about the importance of the listener in how we communicate with each other. When we listen to others, our responses should make a difference - even if the only “difference” is that the other person feels understood, truly understood. We do not need to give advice or provide a solution in order to make a difference to someone.

Taking the time to let yourself react, and feel whatever emotions are evoked...

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Active Listening Cues

Most recently, my clients have either benefited from - or explicitly requested - information about active listening. As a mediator, active listening is one of my most important skills. Active listening:

  • Is the best way I know to ensure that I understand what is being communicated.

  • Allows me to ask about and better empathize with the emotions behind whatever is being said.

  • Helps forge and enhance relationships - professional and personal.

I’ve written about active listening before, and today I read a new, short piece by Daniel Goleman about it. He writes about what research has shown, namely that active listening requires sensing, processing, and responding. Most importantly, it requires unitasking - shut off the phone, turn away from the screen, and - if at all possible - shut down the part of your brain that brings up your to-do or shopping lists!

Still, both my previous posts and Goleman’s latest provide more of a philosophy than a basic tips sheet on active...

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How We Mediate

Mediation is a form of dispute resolution, meaning: If two people or businesses have a disagreement, a mediator will help them find a resolution. Mediation is typically categorized as a form of alternative dispute resolution. As in, mediation is an alternative to using lawyers and the legal system. So, instead of suing a person or company, a mediator can help people find a mutually acceptable resolution to their problem.

Bonus: Mediation is also quicker and cheaper than the courts.

The main ways in which mediation is different from using lawyers and judges are:

  • Mediation is confidential. Courts are typically public.

  • Mediation is voluntary. Courts generally impose consequences if a party does not show up.

  • Mediation is all about self-determination - in other words, the parties create their own solutions. In a court, a judge decides for the parties.

Often, mediators are attorneys who recognize the fact that their unique skill set is not actually best suited to all cases. So...

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