3 Levels of Listening

3 Levels of Listening

• Content
• Feelings
• Intention

How to Listen:

To really understand what someone is saying, we need to learn to listen to the whole person, not just the words that are being said, but also what lies between and behind the words.

The Content:

This is what we usually listen for: the facts, information, the details, the story line. However, as we think at about 500 words per minute and we talk at about 125 words per minute, there is a lot of time for our mind to wander to similar experiences we have had, preparation for a counter argument or the days shopping list!

Developing the capacity to listen accurately to content is helped by trying to be as objective as possible. This means holding back our own feelings about what we are hearing, resisting thinking about our own experiences, and trying to capture the speakers words.

The Feelings:

By listening to the feelings we can discover the relationships between the speaker and the ‘story.’ We listen between the lines of a perfectly rational story to hear feelings of resentment, frustration, excitement, hope and so on.

It is important to hear these feelings, because they can linger far longer than the events to which they are related, and will have a tremendous impact on future interactions.

Developing the capacity to listen accurately to feelings is helped by holding back our own feelings, likes and dislikes and trying to develop empathy. Empathy allows us to pick up on the feelings of the speaker, rather than our own emotions. Listening to the words, the tone of voice used, looking at facial expressions and changes in body language.

The Intention:

Listening to the ‘will’ of the speaker will enable us to find their motivation, commitment and direction this information is vital in negotiation.

Developing the capacity to listen accurately for the intentions of the speaker requires that we hold back our own wishes, suggestions and advice and that we are interested in what they have to say. Start to listen for the emphasis on certain words, the amount of detail, the first and last thing said, the energy used to describe aspects of the story.

Barriers to good listening based on research by Dr Ralph Nichols

On / Off listening

This unfortunate habit in listening arises due to the fact that most people think about four times fast than people speak. Thus the listener has ¾ of a minute spare thinking time for each minute of conversation.

Red flag listening

To some people words are like proverbial red flags to the bull. When we hear them we get upset and listening stops. These terms vary in every organisation. Certain words are like signals to which we respond almost automatically.

Open ears / closed mind listening

Sometimes we decide rather quickly that we know what the speaker is going to say. We jump to conclusions, thus we conclude that there is no reason to listen because we will hear nothing new.

To deep for me to listening

When we are listening to ideas that are complex or complicated we just switch off, often still giving the sender messages that we are following that they are saying.

Matter over mind listening

People do not like their pet ideas overturned. Many of us do not like our opionins or ideas challenged. Consequently, when someone says something that clashes with what we think, we may unconsciously stop listening or even become defensive and start planning our counter attack.

Pencil listening

When you try and record everything that the speaker says you are bound to lose some of the meaning of the content because people talk faster than you can write.

Speaker centred instead of subject centred listening

This is where you are concentrating on an aspect of the speaker’s physical appearance to the extent that it distracts you from what the speaker is saying

Hubbub listening

This is where you are concentrating on listening to external sounds or conversations at the same time as trying to listen to the speaker


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Listening – where to now?

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://ktpworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Eleanor-Purple-Jacket-e1306163181312.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]

I work with people to help them increase their effectiveness and unlock their potential.

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