Listening: The Strategies to Hear What’s NOT Being Said

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

 

 

Have you ever left a conversation and said to yourself, there is more to this than was said. The art of good listening is hearing those unsaid thoughts. How does that take place? A recent article I read by David Grossman, a communications expert[1] caused me to reflect on a team meeting I had just left. I could identify with the description Grossman gives for the listener’s perspective, and I quote:

  • We talk too much and don’t listen.
  • We listen to respond instead of listening to understand.
  • We’re not listening for word clues or noticing body language that signify there’s additional information that is yet to be uncovered.

What are the strategies to be employed that can help alleviate these challenges?  Here, again, are Grossman’s good recommendations:

  • Listen to understand and don’t be thinking about what you will say next.
  • Listen for the underlying issue or emotion, and push back on your assumptions.
  • Listen and clarify, asking questions to ensure everyone understands before moving on to another topic.
  • Trust your gut if you feel as if the whole story is not being told. Repeat, listen and clarify.
  • Notice body language – body shift, facial expressions changing – which are clues that more questions could be asked.
  • When we communicate effectively, we understand where the other person is coming from. That DOESN”T mean we need to agree with them.
  • Ask yourself in your head, “ What’s not being said.”

Effective leaders know the importance of good communications – especially in building strong teams. But also, effective leaders are sometimes narcissistic and feel they know all the answers. Here are ways to tackle those weaknesses.

[1] ‘Strategies that Work to Listen for What’s Not Being Said’, leadercommunicatorblog, David Grossman, the Grossman Group, April 24, 2007