On Listening (Part 4)

Can you hear courage?

I believe you can -- if you know how to listen for it.

Can you hear love.


Listen to the way the air gets more dense around two people in an embrace.

Can you hear forgiveness?

Why, yes.

It's the retreating wave of relief as the heaviness washes away.


We are taught that we listen with our ears.

However, deep listening involves other senses.

Our subconscious listens for energy. It comes in tone of voice, body language, and facial expression.

It comes in follow-up and follow through that sends a message about sincerity, priority, and integrity.

Our ears are receptors for sound and language.

However, our brain is processing data from other senses that create the meaning.

This input is important information as we formulate our role in the exchange.

In their book Adaptive Listening, authors Maegan Stephens and Nicole Lowenbraun share their research that there are four listening styles. Each style requires understanding what the situation or communicator needs from us in that moment:

  • Support: Your goal is to encourage and uplift the speaker by providing emotional support and validating the feelings of the speaker.
  • Advance: Your goal is to help the speaker progress forward and looks like you offering solutions.
  • Immerse: Your goal is to be "in it" with the speaker, walking alongside them and fully understanding their world, experiences, and context.
  • Discern: Your goal is to analyze and evaluate the information the speaker is sharing to make informed decisions.

The authors recommend that we must first know our own default listening style. They offer a quiz that allows you to discover which style you gravitate to most naturally. You can take the assessment here: https://s.pointerpro.com/adaptivelistening

Then, they recommend that we must understand what the speaker needs from us. And, as you may have guessed by now... what they need isn't always what we've been naturally offering when we think we've been listening. For example, if they need support and encouragement, but we've been giving advice... we have been creating a frustrating situation for us AND for them.

You can use these tools to understand what your ears do in a listening situation. Next, see what you can set your eyes to achieve.

Watch the speaker's body language. Do they make eye contact with you? Are they speaking with their mouth or is their body also involved? Why do you think that is? Does their use of body movement create or diminish credibility? Does it indicate their vulnerability in the situation or tell you they have some emotion about it.

What energy do you feel from them? Is this a topic with heavy energy (sadness, gravity, risk?) or is it light (innovation, alignment, joy).

When your listening is informed by your ears (and your preferences for the filters for the information you're receiving), your eyes, and your energy receptors, your effectiveness at meeting the situation and, more importantly, the person where they are will grow exponentially.

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