Levels of Listening and Elevated Thinking.

Effective listening elevates high level of thinking , which results in creative problem solving.

You are in a garden with your son. Several children are playing in the garden. Your son is interested in a toy that a little girl is playing with. He walks over to the little girl, grabs her toy, and runs away with it, leaving the little girl crying. What do you do?

To feel embarrassed because of your son, shout at your son and force him to return the toy. Also will warn him not to repeat it in the future. Now, your son goes and gives the toy back to the girl. Your son is now upset and learns nothing. Learning through listening

Learning through listening

First, your son returns the toy. Now you probe your son, why the little girl with the toy cried. He may not answer it, may just look down or look away, may shudder his shoulder. Don’t give up, keep asking, persist. Ask again and may get a reply ” I don’t know” or “She wanted her toy back.” so you continue asking ” Why do you think she cried?”

Keep asking more questions in a softer tone, more probing elevates thinking and understanding of your son to the level where he understands what is wrong, and he also understands how the poor little girl felt.

The first learning is of your son’s. He learns empathy. The ability to understand how another person feels is empathy. And, you learned elevated thinking. You took a pause, invested time and effort,  gave un-diverted attention to your son, didn’t force him to follow your directions. You didn’t color his thoughts by telling him your views or beliefs, instilled confidence in him that he knows the answer to the question, showed your interest and helped him.

You didn’t spoon-feed him; you helped him find his unique solution through his new-elevated thinking. The Art of Effective listening can elevate the thinking of others. People who know to apply this art enjoy great personal and professional relationships

Listening affects thinking

Imagine you enter your supervisor’s chamber with an idea. You have an innovative idea and you are super excited about sharing it with him. He is busy, occupied, and in the middle of something. ” What, I am tied up now.” He says and gives you an annoyed expression. Now imagine, your supervisor says  ” I am glad to see you. “, he says with a big smile, when you enter his room.

You always bring a new perspective to whatever you are doing. What is on your mind?” Now how do you feel? Do you think the quality of thoughts improves when your supervisor believes, is interested, and gives space to you?

Research says the quality of thinking considerably goes up when the listener has confidence in the speaker’s ability to think at a higher level when the listener has a genuine interest and allows the speaker to share their thoughts and ideas by giving proper time and attention. This forms the basis of elevated thinking. It raises the level of both speaker & listener.

Levels of Active Listening

  • Interrupting
  • Waiting
  • Paraphrasing
  • Empathize
  • Elevated Listening

1. Interrupting

  • We think we know what the other person is going to say and therefore we don’t even let the other person finish his talk.
  • We interrupt and speak, while the other person is speaking.
  • We agree, disagree, modify and add our comments. The other person is never able to finish his/her thoughts.

2. Paragraph

  • At this stage, though we do not listen to him, though we wait for the other person to finish and we respond after that. This is a little better than the first stage.

3. Paraphrasing

  • Generally, training on communication and listening skills talks about this level.
  • The listener gives full attention to the other person. And, the listener then re-phrases and re-frames what is said, in his own words.
  • The speaker validates and acknowledges that the message is well received and understood by the listener.
  • The content is received at this stage- but not truly heard.

4. Empathy

  • Body language, Non-verbal communication, gestures like – frown, smile, twinkle, hesitation, etc. are subtle ways through which emotions are displayed and communicated to another person. At this level, listening involves both content (message) and emotion through multiple senses. It is a high level of listening. It incorporates the third level of listening and also adds emotional content.

5. Elevated listening

  • While it incorporates Paraphrasing, Empathizing and it also adds factors that turn listening into an effective tool for creative thinking and problem solving.
  • Practicing listening at this level means that every other person has great thoughts and therefore the listener shows genuine interest in what the speaker is saying and the speaker is given full time to express oneself.
  • A lot of new thoughts are generated at this stage and it raises the thinking level of both speaker and listener

Active Listening

  • Take a pause. Stop whatever you are doing. Do not look at your laptop or mobile, while you are in a conversation with the other person.
  • Eye contact tells the other person that they are getting attention and are being listened to.
  • Fidgeting, playing with objects, signaling should be avoided.
  • Show them you are listening by smiling, or by maintaining proper eye contact, nodding to show understanding.
  • Even if you disagree, wait and listen first. Do not show it while the other person speaks. You will always have a chance to tell them, once they have finished

You don’t have to agree all the time; you need to fully hear out to understand the other person.

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