Good listening is a rare and beautiful skill. In part 1 I said listening is a wonderful skill to develop whether or not you’re a coach, because it allows you to take your relationships to the next level. It builds trust and fosters new dynamics in how you relate to others.
Level 1 listening is all about what’s going on inside you–this is where most of us are, most of the time. When we really want people to think of us as a good listener, we need to move to Level 2 and Level 3 listening.
Level 2 is focused listening. Here, our attention is directed like a laser on the other person in our conversation. This is where the ‘facts’ of the story they’re telling us are. These are the facts as perceived by them; the person you’re listening to is sharing the story from their perspective and listening at this level enables us to understand their truth. At this level, listening without judgement and putting our own agenda on hold, we allow the person we’re listening to the space to hear themselves in a new way.
It helps to intentionally practice Level 2 with a friend, because it can feel awkward at first. Ask them to tell you a story about something that’s happening with them at the moment. Confirm whether you’ve really heard their ‘facts’ by asking “So what you’re saying is…” and repeating the story, as much as you can in the same words as the person you’re listening to. Allow them to respond. At first you may find you ‘heard’ a completely different thing than what they thought they said!
This will get less awkward with time: you’ll find you can confirm your new listening skills in ordinary conversation without sounding so forced. You’ll also get better at really hearing people; dialling down the inner chatter and focusing in on what the people you’re talking to are really saying. This is a superpower which will take your relationships with others to a whole new level.