What does it mean to be a ‘good’ listener? Are you a good listener? Are you aware of where your attention is in conversations with friends, family, clients and at work?
In this article, we’ll explore how to be a good listener.
The Zones of Listening
There are three zones of listening that we can experience at any given time:
Zone A: Inward Listening (Me)
This is a common form of listening where you, as the listener, is having an internal conversation in your mind. Perhaps you’re distracted, or perhaps you’re relating to everything that is said with your own personal experiences, opinions, feelings, judgements etc.
In a coaching situation, here’s what might be going on in your own mind while the client is speaking:
“Oh yes, I’ve had that feeling or problem before”
“I wonder what I’m going to have for dinner tonight”
“I’m really bored at the moment”
Most of us spend a considerable time in the state of Inward listening.
There’s nothing wrong with it. But when we’re in a coaching session or we want to develop our listening awareness, we’ll also want to expand our listening skills and go to the next zone of listening.
Zone B: Concentrated Listening (We)
In a coach and client relationship, this is when you’re fully concentrating on what the client is saying. You listen to their every word, and you’re unaware of anything else outside.
Imagine two friends enjoying a coffee at a cafe. They’re so engrossed in the conversation that they don’t realise it’s raining outside, the cafe is closing, and all the other customers have left the cafe and the chairs have been put away and the staff are waiting to leave.
In order to fully develop truly whole listening skills, we need to practise Zone C – Whole listening skills.
Zone C: Deep Listening (All)
Deep or Mindful listening is expansive, and the most developed type of listening that we can cultivate in our lives.
Deep listening can be likened to a more flowing state of listening awareness, rather than concentrated.
It doesn’t cause the mental strain that concentrated listening might.
You’ll not only be aware of the conversation with the person in front of you but also have a sense of their emotions and with an awareness of the energy in the room that you’re in too.
In a coach and client session, you’ll have broadened your awareness to sense what the client is feeling, perhaps there are emotions you’ll pick up on, their body language, the environment.
Remember that deep listening is a very natural state of our listening awareness. It’s a skill that we can develop with conscious practice.
Interested in learning more? Enrol in our professional life coaching and explore listening skills.