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Active Listening in Coaching and Negotiations

Active Listening

I promised that I would give you an insight into the skills and methods that successful people use. Click here to see the entire list and these skills mapped.

Many of the skills and methods that successful negotiators use are developed over time. One of the things that you have to learn to increase your effectiveness as a negotiator is to Actively listen. Spend more time listening than talking. You’ll learn information that can help lead you to potential areas for compromise.

Active Listening is a Skill of Successful Negotiators

Another reason for you to actively listen to others is to deal with distrust. To address distrust, treat resisters courteously and listen closely to their concerns. By listening, you demonstrate that you understand and value individuals and appreciate their concerns. When people feel that you’ve heard and value them, they become more trusting and thus more open to considering your ideas.

The following listening techniques can help you reduce resistance in your listeners:

  • Paraphrase. Restate the resister’s points in your own words. Then say something like “Am I understanding you correctly?” This prompts your listener to respond with comments such as, “Well, yeah, that’s what I’m saying.” By getting the person to agree with you—even in this small way—you establish common ground, which fosters receptivity to your ideas.
  • Clarify the vital issues. Identify the resister’s primary concerns. You’ll establish even more understanding and agreement. And you’ll show that you’re capable of sorting out the vital issues. This can further wear down resistance.

3 Levels of Listening

Level 1 – Internal Listening – The “Me” Level

Listening to our own thoughts and judgments is the main characteristic of the Internal level of listening. Most of the people stay on this 1st level. It happens due to a wide variety of reasons but, in my humble opinion, it happens because society teaches us it is the best place to take actions from. We stay at this level from an early stage of our life, then throughout school, and smoothly transitioning into adulthood with our head being filled with our thoughts and opinions that we learn to call “experiences”.

And as a result of it, although we hear what the opponent is saying we focus on what it means to us.

Level 2 – Focused listening

On the second level of listening that is called Focused Listening, we observe the emotional indicators like pauses in the speech, the tone of the voice, or the selection of words the person uses.

Here we are putting ourselves in the mind of the speaker, and we use Empathic listening.

The core skills of summarizing, questioning, paraphrasing and restarting are essentially used in this stage to deepen understanding and to build trust with your coachee, a colleague or your partner.

Level 3 – Global listening – Listening beyond the Words

The third level of listening covers the following three questions while in the conversation:

  • How are we experiencing another’s energy?
  • Are you detecting a bigger issue than what he or she is saying?
  • Is the story consistent with what you already know about him/her?
Coaching happens with level 2 and 3 Listening

This is where trust begins and depth resides in the relationship. As you listen from Level 2 or 3, you can begin to make choices about what kind of interventions or skills you might employ. As you make those choices, watch for the impact of our interventions.

Have a quick look at the quiz below to establish if you are an active listener or you are yet to master the skill of active listening.

If I were to give you an ABC of listening, I would say the following:

First, actually listen. Which means only listen, don’t multitask. And, thinking about what you’re going to say next counts as multitasking. Simply focus on what the other person is saying.

Second, repeat back. This feels a little silly at first, but it works like magic. If someone says she’s angry about the decision you just made, try repeating, “You’re angry about the decision I just made.” This shows you’re listening, and it communicates to the other person that she’s been heard.

Third, ask questions. Explore the other person’s thoughts and feelings more deeply. And the question, “You don’t really believe that, do you?” is not a good question. You’re not trying to prove your point, you’re trying to better understand what’s going on.

When you can’t listen

Engaged listening takes effort—and sometimes you may be unavailable, unprepared, or unwilling to give it. Perhaps you’ve got a meeting to attend or a pressing email to answer. Or you might just need a moment to clear your head.

Be honest when you can’t listen. Say something like, “I want to give you my full attention, but I have an important meeting to prepare for this morning. Are you available to talk after lunch?” Set a better time to speak. Then, keep the commitment.

Love and kisses,

~NJ

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