Effective listening elevates high level of thinking , which results in creative problem solving.
Imagine you are with your son in a garden. There are number of children who are playing . Your son is interested in a chocolate that a little boy is holding . He goes over to the little boy , grabs his chocolate and walk away with it, leaving the little boy crying. What do you do ?
Do nothing and ignore son’s aggressive behaviour.
To shout at son and make him return the chocolate. Also, accompanied with a warning of not repeating it in future. Now, your son goes and returns it , is upset and learns nothing.
Learning through listening
First, your son returns the chocolate. Now you ask your son , why he thinks the little boy cried in the first place. He might not answer it, might just shrug his shoulders or look down… keep asking, persist.
You ask again and you may get a vague ” I don’t know” or ” I guess he wanted his chocolate back.” so you persist again ” Why do you think he cried ?” you ask him to think about and tell it you why the little boy is crying . After some more questions and little more probing your son elevates his thinking and understanding to the level where he not only understands what is wrong, he also understands how the poor littles boy feels.
The first learning is for your son and that is is Empathy. Empathy is ability to truly understand how another person feels .
The second learning is yours and it is elevated thinking. You took time and effort to stop, gave attention to son, didn’t impose him with your wish, didn’t tell him your views or beliefs, gave him the confidence that he knows the answer to the question, maintained your interest and gave him time to find out his own solution through his new elevated thinking rather than spoon feeding him with a solution, which he probably would not have identified with.
People who know this art of effective listening can stimulate elevated thinking in others. People who practice it regularly develop great personal relationships, also professional they do great because their teams perform at truly high level.
Listening affects thinking
Imagine you enterting your supervisor’s chamber with an idea. You are super excited about your innovative idea and you want to share it with him.
He is busy, occupied aand in middle of something. He looks up to you with an annoyed expression and says ” What is it ? I am busy .”
Now imagine, your supervisor looks up and gives you a big smile and says ” I am glad to see you. You always have a refreshing perspective on whatever you are doing.What is on your mind?” Now how do you feel ? Will the quality of your thinking enhance because of the belief, interest and space your supervisor gave you.
Research says the quality of thinking is measurably enhanced when the listener shows they believe in speaker’s ability to think at higher level, when the listener shows interest and gives the time and attention to speaker to share their thoughts and ideas. This is the fundamental for elevated thinking. It raises the level of thinking of both the parties – speaker & listener
Levels of Active Listening
- Elevated Listening
- 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 never gets to finish his/her thoughts.
- We may not be listening at this level , however we wait for the other person to finish and then we respond.
- This is a little better than the first stage.
- Generally trainings on communication and listening skills talk about this level.
- The listener pays full attention until the other person has finished.
- The listener then re-phrases what was said, in his own words.
- The speaker acknowledges that the message is understood by the listener and the message is accurate.
- The content has been received- but not truly heard.
- It is a high level of listening. It incorporates third level of listening and also adds emotional content.
- The emotional content comes through body language, non-verbal clues, gestures – frown, hesitation, twinkle and other subtle ways.
- Here listening involves multiple senses and captures both content and emotion.
5. Elevated listening
- It incorporates level 3 – Paraphrasing , level 4- Empathy and adds factors that make listening a tool for creative thinking and problem solving.
- Practicing this level means the genuine belief that the other person has great thoughts and therefore the listener demonstrates true interest in what the speaker is saying and gives speaker the time to fully express oneself.
- At this level, new thoughts are generated and it raises the thinking level of both the parties – speaker and listener
- Stop whatever else you are doing at that moment.
- Stop multi-tasking – i.e. reading email or text messaging while you are engaged with the other person.
- A good eye contact tells it to the other person that you giving attention.
- Avoid hurry-up or impatient gestures – fidgeting, hand signalling, playing with objects.
- Show them you are listening by maintaining eye contact, nodding to show understanding and also sending small messages – smiling — that you are listening to them.
- If you disagree, do not show it till the other person is speaking. Wait and listen… you always have a chance to tell them, once they are done.
- Quiet your mind, so that you can listen. You don’t have to agree, you need to fully hear out and understand the other person.