“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” – Robert McCloskey
Isn’t it the most wonderful thing in the world to feel heard? Equally, I find, is the opportunity to be there to just listen to someone who needs to talk. At a networking event I heard John Gray, author of Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, talk about listening. He said, addressing the guys in the room, if you want to make your partner happy, when she comes to you with a problem ask her “Do you want me to just listen, or do you want me to help you figure out a solution.” Words I never forgot and have paid off very well!
I was always that guy that people could come to with problems. Something about me that I make people feel very comfortable and safe to talk to. I’m blessed, I believe with the gift of listening. Since I’ve realized it’s importance, I’ve tried, and struggled to improve my skills, often fighting the urge to speak when I know my clients and often friends just need to be heard. Do you really listen when someone comes to you and needs to talk? The following are the three levels of listening. Which do you do most?
3 Levels of Listening
- Level 1: You’re not really listening. Have you ever been out on a date and you’re listening to a story and just tune out? You maintain eye contact, and nod and gesture like you’re listening but you don’t know what there talking about! You might be preoccupied with a question you want to ask. You might be wondering what you’re missing by being out. Whatever you’re thinking about your are not listening. Even if you are thinking of a response! Level 1 listening is basically pretending like you’re listening. Remember 9th grade Economics? No? Exactly my point.
- Level 2: You’re Listening to most of what is being said but tune out to key details.
- Level 3:You hear everything that is being said verbally and nonverbally. Level 3 listening is when you are open to verbal and non verbal communication. You are sensitive to what is being said and what is not being said. You process information and allow for moments of silence as you think of a response.
Remember that being a GREAT listener is a skill that can be developed. It has the power to make people believe you’re much wiser and knowledgeable than you really are (I’ll speak for myself). I think it’s key to remember how wonderful it is to have had the experience of being heard. Think about how you listen and practice elevating your attention. How wonderful it will be when people turn to you because they trust you will offer a safe place to be heard.