Listening your virtual superpower
How do you read the emotional field of a room when there is no room?
- When we are all individually behind a screen?
- How do you read the body language, gestures, and energy amongst a team?
- How do you maneuver through those small moments that support you on deciding when to continue, stop or deviate from your original plan?
All these questions threaten for days and even weeks my self-trust when quarantine started. It was not easy to let go of a ‘way of being & doing’ that you have carefully refined for years when facilitating, leading or coaching F2F.
However, as I noticed the pain of letting go I also notice the increase adaptability and focus in my outer ‘listening’ (perceiving tone of voice, speed, emotion, etc) and my inner ‘listening’ (intuition, empathy and what was not said but present).
I have a feeling I’m not alone. If you are currently leading or facilitating zoom/hangout sessions you might have notice (or not) how this sense has become crucial and when leveraging its full potential what a superpower it can become!
What is listening about…
1. Listening is about INTENT. What is your intent when listening? are you listening to understand or to reply? Stephen R. Covey mentions ‘Most people to not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply’
Listening in a prescribed way to get what you want (negotiate, sale, terms, etc) may indeed and probably will help you accomplish your goals, but if that’s your only motivation for listening then you are just making a show of it. People will pick up the inauthenticity*.
2. Listening requires CURIOSITY. Good listeners know understanding is not binary. It’s not that you have it or you don’t. Your understanding can always be improved*.
Accepting the legitimacy of the other person point of view and that you might have something to learn from it. Also, that you embrace the possibility that there might be multiple truths and understanding them all might lead to a larger truth*.
3. Listening is about CONNECTION. The experience of being experienced. When someone takes an interest in who you are and what you are doing. It’s a missed opportunity to connect when you weren’t listening or someone wasn’t really listening to you*.
(*) Kate Murphy author of ‘You’re not listening, what you’re missing and why it matters’.
1. Beyond the words. Carl Rogers the father of active listening described himself as an active listener ‘I hear the words, the thoughts, the feeling tones, the personal meaning, even the meaning that is below the conscious intent of the speaker.’ For him it was more about being in a receptive mode than outward mannerisms*.
What was said is important but what was not said is equally important.
2. Trust your intuition. In co-active coaching we learn that intuition is an inner knowing, an instinctive wisdom. The first step is to become self-aware of how you experience intuition? After, practice to build your intuitive muscle.
3. Empathy, listening through emotions. Theresa Wiseman describes the attributes of empathy as being able of perspective taking, non-judgement, recognizing emotion and speaking emotion.
There is power when speaking emotion, you acknowledge the speakers right to their feelings.
4. Know your assumptions and bias. To make sense of a complex world, we unconsciously create file folders in our heads into which we drop people usually before they even start talking. We think we know people because they meet aspects like gender, race, sexual preference, religion, profession or appearance*.
The more self-awareness and understanding of our assumption and bias the easier we can identify and filter them out.