Deep Listening

Mar 03, 2023
Deep Listening

I’ve been reading a new book called Tomorrowmind: Thriving at Work with Resilience, Creativity, and Connection – Now and in the Uncertain Future by Gabriella Rosen Kellerman and Martin Seligman. One of the authors, Dr. Seligman, is the founder of Positive Psychology. Before his work, psychology focused on dysfunction and disease. With his career, the study of what it takes to thrive and be happy has taken off. While I’m sure I’ll have more to share about how this book has excellent tips for work, I loved that it includes one of my favorite topics, deep listening:

“Alongside sharing words of compassion, one of the simplest but most powerful actions we can offer another human being is deep listening. Present, generous listening. Not time-pressured listening. Good listeners create space for someone to fully express what’s on their minds. Less-skilled listeners, by contrast, can be too emotionally reactive. They may jump into premature problem-solving or minimize the challenge in order to quiet their own anxiety. In so doing, they nullify the benefits of that conversation for either party: the speaker feels shut down, while the listener doesn’t get to experience the expanded sense of time that comes from helping.”

Here are some ideas to practice deep listening:

  • Show up with non-judgment
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Make sure to repeat back what you hear to confirm you understand
  • Allow for silence

Notice that this can be hard work, so you get to set appropriate boundaries for when you can be present for this type of listening. Also, notice that one of the steps isn’t solving the other person’s problems for them?

Where can you offer someone the gift of deep listening this week? And you, where do you need to be listened to like this? Can you ask for it?