• Carol Lynch and Nadia Ballantine

Stop Hearing and Start Listening

“Most of us listen with an intent not to understand but to reply”

Dr Steven Covey

As we continue to explore the concept of ‘Shifting The Talk’ we want to thank those of you who have shared your own practices with us, as well as those who have indicated interest in our collaborative inquiry. We will follow up with you!!

So how is our inquiry progressing?

We have continued our research and gathered some data from the recent New Plymouth Principals Association conference. In response to the question- ‘Which of the observations below represent the greatest challenges in your context’, summarised themes were:

Lack of protocols, tools & structures-19%

‘A culture of nice’ which impacts on robustness of inquiry & reflection-35%

A lack of adult skill development to support effective collaboration-6%

A desire to improve active listening – but not sure how-13%

Way too much time spent in meetings which don’t lead to change & improvement-27%

Our hunch is that listening is the key to Shifting the Talk in all of these areas.

Naturally when we are communicating informally and generally with others, we bounce around in the following areas:

Judgment / Criticism Listening -Focusing on hearing something you disagree with.

Autobiographical Listening-Me too! Waiting for the other person to pause so you can jump in with your own similar personal experience.

Inquisitive Listening -You get curious about parts of the story that are not relevant to the problem at hand. You start to ask questions that don’t move towards a resolution or focus on what the other person wants to explore, but instead distract with your own agenda.

Solution Listening-I can fix it! You are a problem solver and ready to give solutions rather than helping the person help themselves. Sometimes by jumping in with solutions you miss the real issue, build dependency or miss an opportunity to create a range of options, that you may not have even considered.

It’s when we are engaging in focused professional conversations that these types of listening become unproductive. We are often unaware that we are engaging in unproductive listening within our professional conversations.

Try noticing your own patterns of listening. Which of the four listening types do you find yourself or those around you falling into the most? Which of the four set-asides challenges you most?

Once we become aware, we can then start the process of ‘training’ ourselves to set aside unproductive listening. We know that tools, protocols, structures help with the training. They make us set aside unproductive listening as our default response.

We offer the ‘Bow Tie’ tool as one practical way to advance your training.

Here’s how it works….