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Tip of the Week: Play It By Ear

June 7, 2023, The Association

Last week we shared three things to remind yourself as you prepare for a potentially challenging conversation. Next up, three practices to build deep listening skills.

“We don’t listen just with our ears,” shared MSM Global’s Maria Morukian in her recent webinar on listening skills for leaders. “We’re using multiple physical abilities to take in information when we’re listening. And we’re listening with our hearts, especially when it comes to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

To help build these deep listening skills, Morukian offers three techniques you can begin practicing today.

Think Again

As you listen, pay attention for word repetition. “People may not necessarily always have or want to use language that tells you the emotions that are connected to what they are sharing,” said Morukian. “But they may indicate it through repetition of certain words or phrases.” You may notice that when someone doesn’t feel like the listener has really gotten what they’re trying to say, they may repeat phrases or words.

Body Language

“There may be cues that people are giving, whether they realize it or not, that can provide you with insight into how they’re feeling and what’s important to them,” shared Morukian. What to watch for:

  • Where does the speaker pause?
  • Where do you see eye contact happen—or not happen?
  • When does the speaker look at the ground? When do they look directly at you?

Check Yourself

While in listening mode, we aim to pay laser-focused attention to the speaker AND to what we are bringing into the conversation, so as not to distract yourself with your own story or narrative. “Notice where you’re having a physical or emotional reaction to something that someone says,” recommended Morukian. This might occur when the speaker is sharing an experience or a perspective that is against one’s own cultural norms, and could be an indicator that you are stepping out of empathic listening.

Although the photo at the top of this blog references “easy listening,” these practices sound simple, but are not always easy. The operative word—it’s a practice. For more tips like this, listen to the recording of Listening Skills for Leaders.

Learn More

Tip of the Week: Can You Hear Me Now?
Tip of the Week: Are You In or Are You Out?
Tip of the Week: Busting Biases at Work
Webinar Recording: Listening Skills for Leaders
Webinar, June 7: Be An Upstander, Not a Bystander

Photo: Unsplash

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