Listening without an intent (that is, your sole purpose, your only immediate outcome, is to hear what the other person’s saying) takes guts.
It takes courage. And it takes patience.
Listening-without-intent also takes practice.
Think about it…
How often are you currently “listening while waiting to speak?” Or “listening to understand”? Or “listening with the intent to control the conversation or the outcome”?
Here, we’re talking about going beyond any of those agendas—listening without any agenda at all.
It’s not easy. Heck, I’m an excitable extrovert. That certainly has me “listening whilst waiting to speak” fairly often. Yet I know that sort of listening won’t add nearly as much value that listening-without-intent will add!
When I’m simply “being with” the other person and listening, I’ll naturally empathise with their frame of reference, how they see their world, and how they feel.
Alternatively, if I’m internally processing or evaluating what they’re saying, the other person will know that. They’ll get that I’m forming an opionion about what they’re saying, and evaluating their thoughts and feelings. What impact do you think that’ll have on their openness in the communication?
And The Rewards Of Listening-Without-Intent Are?
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. When you give it a good go, the rewards are big…
When I’m listening-without-intent I notice that:
- The communication changes—for the better
- Then the relationship changes—for the better
A deeper, more genuine connection occurs when I attentively hear the other person
Mis-communications will seriously reduce too. And we haven’t considered some other natural outcomes—like enhancements in your team member’s discretionary effort and productivity.
And That’s Only The Start Of It!
When I listen-without-intent and connect with the other person, I come alive. And they come alive.
To be frank, I think too many people too often have superficial, surface-level conversations. When you go beyond skin deep and create solid understandings of one another’s needs and fears, the communication is much, much more fruitful.
I promise, when you give listening-without-intent a good go, you’ll be pleased with the outcomes .
Your Action Plan
Are you up for giving it a try?
Here’s my recommended approach:
- Decide to be curious about the other person’s thoughts and feelings—no asking them questions yet though. (That wouldn’t be listening-without-intent.)
- Begin by listening-without-intent at the start of each of your conversations…Initially, even just 15 seconds at the beginning of most conversations is fine.
(Approximate timing is good—looking at your watch isn’t ).
- After you’ve started to build your listening-without-intent muscle, I recommend that you increase your practice time in 15 second blocks.
- In two or three weeks, you’ll be able to choose when you listen-without-intent and when you have a regular dialogue. What’s important is that you’ll be at choice—rather than being driven by previous habits or emotional reactions.
- From there, stay alert to when a conversation lends itself to extensive periods of listening-without-intent—and when you need to adopt another agenda.
I’m interested in your progress—let me know how you go.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.