In our increasingly busy world, the art of true listening is often neglected. People tend to hear words but fail to truly listen to the meanings, emotions, and ideas beneath them. As a result, conversations can be monochromatic, lacking the vibrant technicolor nuances that can be discovered through deep listening.
In this article, we take inspiration from Oscar Trimboli's insights on listening and explore original ideas on how to enhance this vital skill. We aim to ignite your listening ability, transforming it from a monotone to a technicolor symphony.
In our article we will review the 5 layers of a good listener, what skills and tricks that can transcend the traditional listening action, and the questions we must ask ourselves to reveal the true powers of deep listening.
The 5 layers
The first layer of a good listener is the ability to control your own impulses. Trimboli says that most people when they listen to others are trying to listen to similarities and not differences. When listening for similarities and not differences, we are looking to like the other, versus trying to understand the person. He says, “listening for similarities in an unproductive way shows up most when you are listening with sympathy rather than empathy”. When you listen with empathy, you see the world as others see it, you are non-judgmental and you understand another’s feelings. Moreover, we want to work first on ourself by cutting out all outside distractions like music, sounds and multitasking. By fully engaging ourself with our communication by removing the distractions, we become fully engaged with the other and can listen and hear the smallest of nuances.
To listen to words only is simply not enough, Trimboli explains that the art of listening is one of many depths. He explains that content is seen with your ears, body and mind. Listening to content is to also witness one’s facial expression and body language and sense, what is the emotion present during the conversation. Furthermore, Trimboli explains that people have communication styles and preferences, they are either detailed, specific or sequential. Some prefer actions with dates, times, owners and actions. We must notice these differences, but also their faces during these explanations, and their emotions to full understand to full spectrum of what exactly they are talking about.
In this chapter, Trimboli mentions that great listeners explore the backstory and influence how speakers tell their story. What makes us great listeners isn’t simply the fact of listening to a story as its told, but also to understand HOW did this story come about and its origins. He says, “ something powerful and transformational happens when a speak says the entire story out loud from the beginning from the idea’s inception”. When your listening, you have to bring in a whole context to really get closer to the meaning of things. Unfortunately for most of us, our brain is not a knowledge machine, its a best guess machine. Listening can be demanding and draining when the backstory is opaque and unclear. The backstory is the critical link between fragments and connections, frustration and understanding, the obscure and the obvious.
Great listeners focus on what is unsaid, Triboli explains that meaning emerges in the silence between the words. Trimboli further clarifies that people normally do not normally complete their full thoughts on the first explanation. He says, “speaking is like the rinse cycle for the mind. When you say something to someone else, it crystallizes what you want to say and how you want to say it. It’s unlikely that what you says the first time is what you completely think or meant to say”. Even a washing machine has multiple rinse cycles to ensure everything comes out clean. When someone says something the first time, it takes them multiple attempts to explain their fullest thoughts. When someone takes a pause in their speech, you must treat it like a word, and we must notice if it’s an awkward , deafening, intimidating or pregnant pause. Also, we must notice if the breath is affected and if it is, we must dive and explore the breath pattern to understand the speaker.
In this final chapter, Trimboli points out that words hold on to emotions that hold meaning. He specifies, “feelings and emotions create a rich and nuanced signal toward meaning.” Listening for a speaker’s meaning requires great presence when you are sifting through the words and thoughts while noticing their feelings. Feelings and emotions create a rich and nuanced signal toward meaning. When you are listening for meaning, elevate your perspective. Expand your viewpoint in the discussion beyond the participants. When you listen for meaning and not words, opposing ideas and views can coexist and cooperate.
What skills and tricks that can transcend the traditional listening action
125/400 rule can enhance your listening skills. This rule states that while we can listen to 400 words per minute, people can only speak at 125 words per minute. This discrepancy can lead to distractions during a conversation. To help someone get to their point, ask them to elaborate or simply remain silent after they pause.
Listening is a skill, a strategy, and a practice. By developing this skill, we can create positive change in our homes, workplaces, and the world.
Focus on physical features
To stay focused on a conversation, sometimes one must focus on other things than words. Trimboli explains that by entering our sight on someones eyes, mouth and eyebrows, we can remain in the conversation and not get bored from what they are actually saying.
What actions to take to become a better listener
With your trust workplace listening buddy, practice note-taking during a conversation. Every two or three minutes, capture one word, phrase or idea each.
Who is the best listener you have ever seen? What is the one thing they did well?
During a discussion with an other person in one meeting each day, ask any of these questions; And?, Anything else? Say more?, Tell me more? What else?
During a discussion with one other person, ask the speaker: “Do you mind taking me back to when you first noticed this?”
Take a longer and deeper breath when your attention strays for an extended period
All in all, listening is an art that is difficult to master, it takes years of experience and hard work to perfect this trait. With delicate focus, one can become a better version of themselves if they are able to truly better their sense of hearing. This trait will not only make you a better person, but it will also help you in your interpersonal relationships and deepen the meaning of even the most basic conversation.
Love and Peace