Even if listening is an important skill to have, there is a paradox circulating the issue. Studies have shown that people who see themselves as good listeners, under-perform by as much as 60%. Listening affects all relationships in our lives. Personal or professional. Not understanding the message, can put these relationships in jeopardy.

Syntax body language and delivery represent around 93% of communication. Not the actual words themselves. This means there is more than one level of listening. The exact reason for why so many self-proclaimed ‘good listeners’ underperform. Let’s look at these levels of listening.

Listening for the Idea

Another description of this level is intermittent listening. It is like how proficient readers can scan a text diagonally to get a general idea of the topic. We do the same as listeners. We pay attention for long enough to get the gist of what is said. Only after we reach this point, will our minds refocus on formulating a reaction from our point of view.

Listening to Invalidate

This level of the listening process is where most people get stuck. It’s where relationships are most often in peril. It is where we look for long enough to understand the message that’s stated. Then we wait for a trigger that we can defeat or refute.

Once we hear that trigger, we wait for the other person to stop talking. Then we intervene and express our position about their ‘faulty’ views. Interrupting someone with a quick reply is a clear sign that we are not listening.

Listening for Logic

If we manage to pass the level above, then we will begin looking for the logic behind what is being said. It is an especially important step in the process. It will allow us to find common ground and start the conversation. At this stage, we will begin by asking ourselves questions like ‘Is this their worldview, conclusion, or judgment?’

Listening for Emotion

At this stage, we look at what emotions may be driving the argument. Even if these emotions do not make sense to us it is, still, an essential step in the listening process.

Listening for Their Point of View

The last level is where we begin to listen to what their statement says about that person and who they are in the world. It is where empathy comes in. Where we can put ourselves in their shoes and get a better understanding of their worldviews.

In the end, every one of us is the sum of our experiences, and we base everything we see around us on those experiences. If we are unable to comprehend from what point of view people are coming from, we do not understand them. If we do not understand them we will never be able to influence or change their minds.

Conclusion

Up until this point we have been talking about listening. But nothing happens without mastering the art of silence. Research has shown that retention increases when we let people tell us what they are thinking. Rather than us telling them what they should be considering.

When engaged in conversation, ask an open question and leave it floating in the air. Wait for people to respond. Our society today considers a 5-second silence to be uncomfortable. Even so, it takes between 5 to 10 seconds for people to gather their thoughts and get comfortable to respond. Even if this technique is not as dynamic or as fast-paced as we like it will generate more results.

Philip Uglow is the President of Renshi Consulting Group. Renshi lowers clients costs by pulling ideas from your people in the moment, when they are most busy with real work. This is when they learn. This is when they change.