How to Listen So Others Hear


"How to listen so others hear"...

Wait a second... Say what? 

No, that's not a typo.

Yes. When we listen well, we aim to genuinely hear others.

But, that is only half of the equation.

Actually, it's even less than that.

Because, like any communication exchange, listening is not one-sided.

We also strive to be heard. Yes, even as we listen. Understood. Appreciated. Acknowledged.

Most of us think that we're 'heard' only when we speak. Through the examples we use. How well we convey our thoughts, ideas and ideals. The quality of our content. This -- we think -- is how we get others to listen to us. 

And any good communicator will tell you: if the other person is not 'hearing' you, your message is not going to get through... no matter how beautifully crafted.

There's a wall... not a bridge

So it's natural to focus on telling. Learning to speak clearly. Present well. Get 'heard'. Especially when we are being looked to for influence or leadership.

Yet, see if this sounds familiar...

As a leader, communicating can sometimes feel like Groundhog Day. No matter how hard you try to get your message across, it is all too easy to find the next day that you face the same blank stares, predictable objections, and questions that indicate that you failed to make it stick — that people just aren’t getting it.

One reason leaders find themselves in this cycle is that their approach to communication is based on an outdated mental model. It’s a model best described as a “post office.” They view themselves as the sender of a message and others as the receivers.

Why Leaders Who Listen Achieve Breakthroughs by Elizabeth Doty. S+B BLOGS Published: March 21, 2016

So, what happens if we learn to listen well? 

We not only hear others better, we also increase the likelihood of being heard. Listened to, in return. And, that's not the same as listening, simply as a way to wait for our turn to speak. 

It's listening, as a form of genuine interest, curiosity, and connection. It's how to listen so others hear, too.

It's a way of listening so intently that the person being listened to can generate ideas and truly hear your questions. Explore and discover meaning and mission, together.

Give them a chance to hear their own mind; to let their heart speak; to give expression to their very spirit. To explore and express what's really present for them. What really matters.

And, because of your example of listening, to become better listeners themselves. Better able to hear others. Fully. Build connection. Listen through and be able to hear past our own contextual and personal filters.

Bridges, not walls. 

Click on the image to Like or Retweet in Twitter. 

So let's have a look at 3 powerful listening "L's".

They're three perspectives, with resources to help us become better listeners. The kind of listeners who can -- and do -- 'hear' others well.

And, the kind of listeners who increase the likelihood of being heard, in return. How to listen so others hear...

1. listen to LearnTweet:

It means we stop listening as a means of formulating our own reply (or rebuttal). Or, as a way to gather just enough information to think we've 'got it'.

Instead, start listening to fully hear the other. Keep at it until they're fully heard. Show respect. Honour differences. Open your mind.

A funny thing happens when we do that. Suddenly, others want to fully hear us too.

What does that look like? How to listen so others hear from this first perspective?

Here's a favourite metaphor, to illustrate. It reminds me to listen like a blind man. Listen to learn. In other words, be willing to fully explore, and hear, the other's point of view. 

2. listen to LoveTweet:

It may sound odd but we really do need to bring more love into our leadership -- and our listening. The kind of love that stimulates care, concern, authenticity -- and the safety and freedom -- for others to be themselves with us. To work together to cultivate what matters. It's a key element in how to listen so others hear.

But we're not trained to love in our listening.  It's the kind of love that comes from being present. Non-confrontational, and without agenda. In its simplest form, it's this:

"To will the good of another." ~Thomas Aquinas 

So, how can we learn to listen like that?

Especially in a world where it's increasingly difficult to listen? In fact, warns sound expert Julian Treasure, in this short (7:42 minute) TED talk, "We are losing our listening." In response, he shares 5 ways to listen better.

Ways to listen better. Ways, he says, to listen for understanding. Listen for connection. And, listen for peace. I call it listen to love.


3. listen to LeadTweet:

If you're not listening, you can't lead.

You may be able to control, force or coerce but you will not be able to cultivate in others the kind of desire, trust, commitment and inspired accountability that real leadership requires.

You may talk. Share vision. Set expectations. But, when you listen to lead, you begin to discover how to listen so others hear.

Listening to lead, therefore, is NOT about furthering your own agenda. Or, at least, not to the exclusion of others.

Instead, it's about creating the kind of environment where those listened to uncover and leverage their strengths and abilities. It's your chance to awaken to their reasons for wanting to follow your lead.

It's the kind of 'leadership listening' that helps others uncover and become their best.

'Miraculously', when that happens, they become so much more open to hearing us in return. Listening, in turn, to those who lead them well (and our goal is for that to be us).

It's an exploration of potential and possibility. Leadership that fosters discovery and that sources innovation, growth, problem solving and purpose.

We listen... They're 'led'. They listen... We're 'led'... And, the cycle restarts.

Click to Tweet: this image.

It's an adventure in listening! An opportunity for synergy. The kind of listening that lays the foundation for difference-making.

None of this can happen without a mindset of query. Genuine curiosity. Authentic interest.

It's cultivating a mindset, and the listening to go with it, that focuses on 'your success' vs. 'my agenda'. One in which we are more intent on:

Give vs. Take

Being Extraordinary vs. Average

Relational vs. Transactional


Caring vs. Indifferent



Interestingly, when we do this, we often come to alignment in the pursuit -- and accomplishment -- of shared and overlapping agendas. Isn't that, after all, what winning with others and achieving influence is all about?

A takeaway question to ask yourself:

"If I listened better, what would be true?"

It isn't always easy. But, it's worth it. How to listen so others hear? Build bridges, not walls. Listen to Learn. Listen to Love. Listen to Lead. Adopt a mindset of 'their success' vs. 'my agenda'. And, harness the power of curiosity through query.

I am neither clever nor especially gifted. I am only very, very curious. ~ Albert Einstein

My motto is, "Your Meaningful Vision, Fulfilled." It's about making a difference. Empowering you to achieve your aspirations and vision for success. Energizing people, possibilities, potential. 

In Calgary? I offer several business seminars for the University of Calgary; Continuing Education at One of them is BUS 279: Integrative Listening: the Leader's Edge. It's part of U of C's Business and Professional Programs; Certificate for Emerging Leaders

Not in Calgary? Or, looking for something that's a custom fit? I offer direct, tailored workshops and retreats. Engage, influence and lead with more clarity, greater focus, and increased results. Live and lead 'on purpose.' Email me, to explore more.

Stay up-to-date with my latest blogs and other resources through my Leader's Digest periodic email - subscribe below.


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