Brighton Leadership Group

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Five Modes of Listening

Communication is about talking AND listening. Listening is key to effective communication. You can be efficient in talking to someone but without the ability to listen effectively, your message can be misunderstood. That begins the communication death spiral where things break down and you get frustrated or irritated.

The best communicators listen with the right frame of mind to ensure that they maximize their communication effectiveness. We call this listening modes.

Examples of listening modes:

  1. Disengaged – your body is present but your mind is not. You hear the words that the person is saying and can even repeat them but you are not really listening because your mind is on something else.
  1. Competitive – you are listening with the intention of “topping” what the other person is saying. Whether its accomplishments, possessions or relationships, the underlying goal is to prove that you are better than the other person.
  1. Combative – this is an argumentative mode. You listen for flaws or weaknesses in what is being said and wait for an opening to point them out. You are constantly formulating your point of view and creating comebacks that attack the speaker or their message.
  1. Passive – you listen carefully and seek to understand. You don’t ask questions or validate your understanding.
  1. Active – you demonstrate your interest in what the speaker thinks, feels or means in their message. You restate what you hear to reflect the message back to the speaker for validation. The validation is what makes this the most effective listening mode and distinguishes it from all the other modes.

Pay attention to your listening mode. Ensure that you are in the proper frame of mind to achieve results. Is your goal to be right, or is your goal to maintain and build a relationship? Too often people enter conversations without examining their listening mode and how that mode will impact the outcome of the conversation.

Listening well will transform your conversations, your relationships and your life.

Question to Ponder:  Which mode do you listen from?

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