Listening is a powerful communication skill that affects your leadership influence and relationships. When you listen well, people notice. Why? Because most people don’t practice good listening. Instead, they typically focus on being heard.
Ribbers and Waringa (2015) define seven levels of listening which are:
- Continually interrupts people, impatient when listening, wants to hear him- or herself talk, doesn’t get to the point easily
- Restrains him- or herself enough to listen but with visible signs of impatience, prefers to talk about own experiences
- Listens to others, polite and observes standard conversational etiquette, reactive conversational partner, doesn’t actively draw out others to talk
- Lets others talk, asks for clarifications, prefers to keep conversations about business
- Always takes the time to willingly listen, comes across as interested in the other person, gives appropriate feedback
- Gets people talking, exchanges information, listens well to others while giving natural responses, asks questions to get to the heart of the subject
- Expresses sensitivity to the needs of others, makes time for people, asks questions to clarify, gives feedback, shows involvement
We can’t always listen at a level seven, and frankly, not all conversations require a seven. However, we should be holistically aware of where we tend to operate and decide whether we need to focus on improving our listening skill. These listening definitions can also help us identify which conversations require which level of listening in order to improve the outcome for both speaker and listener. With a defined scale as reference, it’s easier to target and measure improvement.
Ribbers, A., & Waringa, A. (2015). E-Coaching: Theory and Practice for a New Online Approach to Coaching. New York, NY: Routledge.
About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com