Psst…..Active Listening–It’s Not Just For Problems!

active listening people person problems skills leadershipSo remember that Active Listening stuff? I am guessing you do. Okay, so did you know that you can use it when no one owns a problem?

Let’s say you’re “hanging out” in the middle part of the Behavior Window (AKA “Increasing Productive Work Time” or the “No Problem Area”) and you’re simply talking with a coworker about the usual stuff or a new project—anything that’s not, at the present moment, below anybody’s Line of Acceptance.

This skill is THE most difficult AND the most powerful so I encourage you to practice it as much as you can—yes, even when there’s no problem. Here are some tips for you:

The following are appropriate uses of Active Listening when all of the other’s behaviors are in the No Problem, Productive Work Area:

  1. When you are unclear, or when others seem unclear, as to the meaning of sender’s message. (“Let me see if I understand what you’re saying…“)
  2. When sender doesn’t feel understood. (“It seems to you that…“)
  3. When you want to demonstrate your understanding or acceptance to the sender.
  4. When you want to link the messages of more than one sender to show the group the relationship between those messages. (“It sounds like you are agreeing with Susan’s idea that we…with the addition that you think we should also…Is that right?“)
  5. To break up and help digest a long monologue. (“Before you go any further, let me see if I understand what you’ve said so far. If I hear you correctly, you’re saying…“)
  6. When you sense an underlying problem or hidden agenda that may be skewing the other’s contributions.
  7. To get to know a new team member better. However, guard against using this powerful tool to invade other’s privacy, and be sure to reciprocate other’s disclosures by being equally disclosing of your self.
  8. When interviewing new job applicants. Again, avoid prying. Remember, the purpose of the interview is to achieve a match, not just to gather data you need for a decision, so reciprocate with information applicant needs to know about you and the organization.
  9. To ensure that you understand someone else’s instructions or orders to you.
  10. When you are recording a group’s decision to verify that you have understood the sense of the group.

I strongly caution you NOT to Active Listen….

  1. When you feel unaccepting of the speaker or his/her message.
  2. When you are not really interested in understanding.
  3. When the sender’s code is completely clear.
  4. As a way to hide your own feelings about a subject from the sender (or from yourself).

Oh and here’s a superb article on this incredible skill by Dr. Bill, who’s been teaching the Gordon Model…since 1983 so yes, he knows a thing or two about these skills.

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