Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

The Three Disciplines of Listening Well

After a weekend of more social interaction than I typically prefer, I’ve come to an obvious conclusion.

Listening is a lost art.

And before I point fingers at anyone else, I need to do a check-in with my own listening skills.

I often find myself in three kinds of conversations:

Ones where I am the learner.

Ones where I am the teacher.

Ones where I am the conversation dropout because of either ignorance or indifference.

Listening as a learner is easier than listening as a teacher or a dropout. The solution is to be the learner 90% of the time, the teacher 10% (or less), and drop out of everything else. Intentionally.

But, in every case, I am implementing these three disciplines.

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1. The discipline of not interrupting

As a verbal processor, this is sometimes difficult. I’m discovering that my thoughts don’t disappear into the thin air of brain if I don’t say them out loud. Often they’re better and more refined when they marinate a little longer.

2. The discipline of language economy

Sometimes people drone on about things. Whether it’s a lack of clarity or self-absorption, endless droning does little to help with better listening. Stop talking. Stop taking center stage. Get clarity before entering a conversation.

3. The discipline of asking questions (rather than waiting to reply)

Listening with the intent to reply is a very different posture than listening with an intent to understand. The secret is asking questions. As you develop a genuine curiosity about other people, listening becomes an easier task.

Influence grows when people feel listened to.

And the wisdom of the Proverb prevails here.

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. - Proverbs 17:28