Experience the benefits of better conversations & better relationships with transformational listening
Do you talk more than listen?
If so, you can be off the mark in responding to the other person’s interests, wants and needs—and also come off as a bore! While comedians do all the talking, they have first listened which is the reason that they know what to say to make you laugh.
Conversely, the positive consequences of listening first and talking later is that you are able to provide accurate, targeted responses and continue to advance the conversation. This is particularly important when you want to demonstrate respect for the other person, collaborate, resolve a conflict, get buy-in for a particular idea or enroll a prospect!
80/20 is a good guideline to follow—e.g. listen 80 percent of the time and talk 20 percent of the time.
As important as listening is, Aristotle said that we are all taught to speak. None of us is taught to listen.
Consider this conversation:
Listening is not just about the content of the conversation or about learning. Listening is a pathway to making a connection—having a conversation en route to building and strengthening a relationship.
What is transformational listening?
Transformational listening stimulates oxytocin—the feel good, bonding, safety hormone which promotes the desire to collaborate and be sociable.
Transformational listening uses both your brain and your heart to create the foundation for rapid rapport. Rapport enables you to connect to have a conversation during which you can develop trust so that you can have a relationship. Without trust a relationship is not possible. Without rapport there is only an imitation of a conversation, at best.
Since how we speak is a reflection of how we listen, transformational listening is about matching the listening styles of the people in the conversation. This means listening to the other person who is speaking in their (the other person’s) listening style and speaking to the other person in their (the other person’s) listening style.
What are the listening styles?
Just as we are pre-wired in our preferred learning styles (e.g. visual, auditory and kinesthetic), we are also pre-wired in terms of our preferred listening styles. There are three basic listening styles:
1) People-oriented listeners, who are concerned for others, quickly notice the emotional states of others and are interested in building relationships.
2) Accomplishment-oriented listeners, who are focused on moving things forward quickly to achieve specific results.
3) Detail-oriented listeners who value data/information, consider all sides of an issue and explore and test alternatives prior to making decisions.
Which is your preferred listening style?
How do you know what the other person’s listening style is?
Simply listen to how they speak and what they say:
If someone frequently talks about people—people’s personal issues or the impact that a changed business process will have on the employees and/or customers, etc.—they are a people-oriented listener.
If someone frequently ‘presses’ for getting things done, they are an accomplishment-oriented listener.
If someone frequently offers lengthy explanations, they are a detail-oriented listener.
When two individuals with the same listening style are in conversation they are already well-positioned to be in rapport.
When two individuals with different listening styles are in conversation, they need to position being in rapport by listening to the other person who is speaking in their (the other person’s) listening style and speaking to the other person in their (the other person’s) listening style.
Since transformational listening is about flexing your preferred listening and speaking style, it is probably best to think of each of these styles as soft-wired and not hard-wired.
Anton Checkhov said that knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice. And no one becomes skilled or great without conscious and consistent practice.
So if you want to become a transformational listener, practice flexing your listening and speaking style. And then experience the benefits of better conversations and better relationships.
Sara Jane Radin is the Founder and Managing Principal of Performance Advantage Systems and an Executive Leadership Coach specializing in coaching abrasive leaders and helping successful leaders get to their next level of leadership effectiveness. Sara Jane may be reached at SaraJane@PerformanceAdvantageSystems.com or by calling (201) 224-8848.