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Meaningful ways to increase your productivity, performance and well-being backed up by scientific research.

Did you hear that?

More recently my work with organizations has been about how we can work together effectively on topics like: creating a positive work environment, working across generations and supporting employees in difficult times. A common thread that runs through all of these topics is something I didn’t necessarily anticipate, but then it hit me over the head…  It’s listening!

When I found myself striking the same note over and over again, I did what I always do – I went to the research and took a deep dive. When I came up for air I was even more excited about listening than when I started, and this is why. We need to reframe listening as a gift of curiosity.

Have you ever thought of listening in this way as before? We all know what listening is, and you may have heard the term “active listening” and perhaps can even recognize good and bad listening habits. But have you stopped to consider how listening is showing someone our curiosity for them, their ideas and their well-being?

When we stop and really listen with curiosity, we are asking questions:

  • Tell me more about…
  • What is your impression?
  • What else have you considered?
  • When did you notice…
  • How is this impacting…
  • What opportunities exist?

And when we follow up the question with real, curious listening, we can get a lot of information. We can hear and process what they are saying, how they are saying it (hesitatingly, in a rush, with emotion?) and we can get what they are not saying. When we listen for all of this with curiosity, we are not judging. We are not listening for missing evidence, to find fault or to prove their point as wrong. We are listening to understand.

What if, when a co-worker disagrees with us, instead of thinking to ourselves about all the negative things we typically think about when someone disagrees, we stopped and really listened? What if we got curious and asked: “Tell me more.” or, “What else?”

If someone asked you these questions in the midst of a disagreement, how would you respond? You might think that someone is open to hearing your thoughts and point of view. You might also feel like your perspective is appreciated and valued! These questions invite conversation and discussion. They encourage sharing thoughts and ideas. They allow us to build bridges for understanding the issue, strategy or position.

How can we become better listeners? First, ask open-ended questions that start with “what” and “how.” Then, as you listen, use nonverbal signals like facing them with open body posture (ahem… your web cam!), having an open/neutral facial expression, nodding your head, and keeping your focus (put your phone down!).

When we really listen with curiosity, we build bridges and we connect with others. Imagine how open communication can help us to be more inclusive, supportive, productive and innovative – and how we can be more resilient organizations and people as a result.

There are many more tips and suggestions I’m happy to share with you in a speaking event or in a coaching session – please reach out to me for more ways you can listen with curiosity to build bridges!