WATCH: What level are you listening at?


Today, I’d like to talk about  ‘The Three Levels of Listening’.


Because listening is one of the most fundamental skills that any leader, manager or individual team player needs to have in order to be highly effective at work. And, in order to be able to influence and have an impact on other people, you need to be an excellent listener. Because, Stephen Covey said a wonderful thing that really stuck with me the first time I read his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  It was that it’s about “Seek First to Understand Before Trying to be Understood”. That made a  huge impression on me, that it’s really about finding out where other people are at and, what’s going on for them before you can even begin to try and help them to understand where you’re at and where you’re coming from. So, a great way to begin with that is to really understand these three levels.

‘To Me’

Level 1 is ‘I’m just listening to my own thoughts rather than to what you’re actually saying. So, for example, if you’re talking to me about an issue at work or with a colleague or a problem that you have. I’m thinking about what would I do in that situation or how am I  going to respond next or what’s the next question I really need to ask. It’s all about me and my thoughts and how I’m going to respond to you. Rather than really listening to you. And that can have a sort of distracted feel about it. 

‘To You’

The next one is about ‘Me Listening to You’. So  I’m really listening to your words. I’m listening to the details and specifics of what it is that you’re saying and I’m listening to your concerns, about the situation. And a good way to do that is to be able to rapidly repeat in my own mind the very words that you’ve just said. So, they like to get embedded as a second level. And, that also helps to block out my own thoughts around the situation or what I believe is my own feelings about the situation. So, I’m really listening to you and I’m really being fully present to you.


‘To Context’

And then this last section is actually one that takes a lot of conscious effort, because I need to be doing all of Level 2 and then I need to be able to think about: Right what are the real beliefs that you have about this situation? What are the values? What’s most important to you about this situation? What’s the level of intensity of your emotions around this situation? How’s it making you feel? And above all what’s the context of your situation. The other people involved and the impact that they can have or the influence that they can have or the lack of influence that you have in the situation. So, above all when it comes to Listening. Stay Curious! 

With best regards,

David Klaasen 

Talent4Performance help business leaders clarify complexity. We inspire people and drive continuous performance improvement, so they can convert thinking into action and results. 

©David Klaasen – 2014