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Inclusive Communication

Active Listening

We are living in a heightened technology connected world, which has many positives, however it can sometimes cause us to not be as engaged and present in real time! Have you ever been part of an important conversation with someone and they are looking at their phone, as they are 'listening' to you? How did that make you feel? There definitely is a difference between active and passive listening! We can agree that active and deep listening takes practice; teams excel when they commit to mindful listening!

Deep listening occurs when we feel zoned into another person’s thoughts and feelings as well as our own. Mindful listening can only happen when we have created mental space that is free from distractions, judgements, hasty interpretations, assumptions and pre-emptive conclusion. When we are deep listening, we are feeling highly receptive to the essence of meaning from our conversations with others. We are feeling interested, quietly engaged, focused, and open to being influenced.

When we are zoned in, it should feel effortless and not forced. As Bailey (2007) indicated, "we aren’t analyzing or figuring out - we are simply letting the feelings and sounds affect us. Deep listening is not defensive, argumentative, or intrusive. It is not about struggling to analyze or interpret. It is a purely receptive state of mind."

When we listen deeply, we let go of any beliefs we have about the other person. We let go of our prejudices and past memories of him and her and hold space for the person speaking.

When we listen deeply, we let go of any beliefs we have about the other person. We let go of our prejudices and past memories of him or her.

Here are some tips on how to listen deeply from Senge et al (1994):

  • Stop talking: Learn to still the voice within.
  • Visualize the other person’s viewpoint.
  • Look, act, and be interested.
  • Don’t interrupt. Be quiet past your tolerance level.
  • Speak only affirmatively when listening. Avoid evaluative or critical comments.
  • Periodically and when appropriate, rephrase key points in the conversation.

Listen to William Ury discuss the The Art of Listening