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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Listen Strategically: The Easy Steps to Follow

We can achieve success in communication at any given time by understanding the following four meanings of listening to listen strategically:

  1. Facts
  2. Meaning
  3. Feelings
  4. Intention

“The house is burning” is a simple, straight-forward statement. But those four words –
depending on how they are said – may mean:

  • “A residential structure is being consumed by flames.” (Facts)
  • “The house we are in is on fire.” (Meaning)
  • “Ahhhhh!!!!!!” (Feelings)
  • “Run for your life.” (Intention)
Sometimes we do not understand other people because we are not listening, or we are not listening well. We are destructed or simply are not paying attention. But sometimes we do not understand them because we are not hearing what they want to communicate. We are not listening to the right level. We may hear the facts for example but miss the feelings.

Level 1: The Facts

People want to-------- Convey Information
Your task is to-------- Listen to details and clarify
You need to ask------- “Who?” “What?” “Where?” “Why?” “When?” “How?”
Your goal is to--------- Picture the situation as the person is describing it

Level 2: Meaning

People want to-------- Make themselves understood
Your task is to-------- Listen to the big picture, summarize and paraphrase
You need to ask------- “Am I understanding you correctly?” “Is this what you are getting at?”
Your goal is to--------- Understand what the person means, and make the other person feel understood.

Level 3: Feelings

People want to-------- Connect on emotional level
Your task is to-------- Listen with empathy, pay attention to body language and tone of voice
You need to ask------- “How does it make you feel?” “It sounds to me like you are feeling …”
Your goal is to--------- Recognize how the person is feeling and make the other person feel connected

Level 4: Intention

People want to-------- Get their needs met
Your task is to-------- Listen to wants and needs, focus on solutions, action
steps and outcomes
You need to ask------- “What do you want to have happen?” “What would help you in this situation?” “What can you/we do about it?”
Your goal is to--------- Know what the person wants to achieve