Top 3 Ways to Listen Better

In a prior blog post I shared on LinkedIn, I discussed how Listening Comes in 3s. Now, let’s look at how to apply those three ways of listening physiologically, volitionally, and emotionally more effectively.


Remember the three waves?


So, when you are listening in the emotional realm, there are three key questions to ask yourself.


  1. The first key question to ask yourself is, “What did I just hear?” By “hear” I mean what did you hear with your ears.


  1. The second key question to ask yourself is, “What did I just see?” This means attending to what you just took in with your eyes.
  1. The third key questions to ask yourself is, “Was there congruence?” By congruence, you are assessing if what the person said matched their facial and body movements in a way that resonated with the sentiments of the words.


Why does this matter?


Well, if you just ask yourself the first question, then all you get are just words—data. Staying in that realm will keep things relationally superficial between you and the other person. If you want superficial, then this is the place to be.


However, if you want a bit more and are game to go further then ask yourself the second question. The answers will give you a glimpse inside the other person who may or may not be aware of what’s going on internally for them. It will also start a pattern for the both of you to begin connecting “at another level.”


Asking yourself the third question is an added “cherry.”

If you notice any incongruence then lovingly and respectfully inquire about it.  This gesture will communicate to someone that you really see them.


So, if your friend said to you, “I got a promotion” with an elevated voice and a wide-eyed smile then that mostly likely would indicate a degree of happiness about the event. On the flip side then, your friend expressing “I got a promotion” with slumped shoulders, sullen face, and flat voice mostly like would indicate that they are not happy about the news.  If you are interested in connecting with them, then a follow-up question from you like, “And how are you feeling about that?” or “You don’t look happy about it; how are you really feeling?” will likely give you more insight into the other person.


Delving further, beyond the physiological, to the volitional and then the emotional aspects of listening will greatly help you making connections in your interpersonal relationships.

So, give it a try. Give your attention. Ask the questions. Make the connections. You may be surprised what you learn about someone—and yourself—in the process.


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