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Listen Up!

Listen sign

St. Francis got it right. I want “to be understood, as to understand” and I bet you do too. But what does that mean and how do we get there?

Listen.

St. Francis of Assisi, then Stephen Covey

For all the Catholics reading this, you know The Prayer of St. Francis because you regularly sing it at Mass. Apparently, St. Francis didn’t write it, according to Wikipedia and other sources I researched, but the message doesn’t change. This Christian prayer of peace contains a line, quoted above, that Stephen Covey reinterpreted in a business context with his famous book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.     

Covey’s Habit #5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. He uses the phrase to define effective, empathic listening.  From the perspective of Habit #5, Covey explains the action required as “reflecting feelings and words” then “stat[ing] your point of view using ‘I’ messages.”

The Lost Art of Listening

Listening is important. Yet in the “busy-ness” of life, listening often gets relegated to “What are the key points this person is making?” This transactional view of listening leads to these potential consequences:

  • You may listen to reply, not to understand, and end up in reactive mode instead of responsive mode, which means replying without fully considering the topic at hand;
  • Lacking full information because of glossing over the meaning or intent behind the words, you accept them at face value;
  • Without paying attention to your five senses (because most communication is non-verbal), you lose the subtext of what the listener is saying.

Individually, nuance gets shunted aside when dealing with the sheer volume of data received daily. Societally, we are moving toward a literal, not figurative view, of the world.

Listening Builds Connection

Listening forms the basis of connection. As social beings, humans are wired to connect. Social media provides the digital platform to communicate and humans produce prodigiously based on the output seen on social media year over year.

It’s not enough.

Does social media nourish you? Most of the time, it feels like eating low-fat foods with fake sugar substitutes: I don’t feel satisfied and end up eating more to fill up than I would have had I just eaten the full-fat yogurt to begin with. Social media isn’t enough because I can’t connect directly with the speakers, content, or medium. Social media is the low-fat substitute that replaces full-fat human connection.

Connection happens by listening to understand instead of listening with half an ear while formulating your reply.

Effective Listening

Try these methods to listen more effectively.

  1. Start with the intent to understand what the other is saying. Ask for clarity when confused. There’s no shame in seeking clarity, and you will strengthen the social bonds between you and the person with whom you’re conversing.
  2. Practise focused, fact-based listening: Pay attention to what is said and implied through words, tone of voice, and body language. Use your five senses.
  3. Try intuitive, heart-based listening: Seek a gentler way where you respond to the emotion in any given moment, looking for the deeper meaning.

Listen Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash, Siblings Photo by Jess Zoerb on Unsplash, Yogurt Photo by Tiard Schulz on Unsplash, Connection Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash,

Listening connects us to each other and ourselves. I like how the Dalai Lama sums it up perfectly:

When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know.

Listening lets you learn what you don’t know. It keeps you humble and helps you grow. Give yourself the gift of listening.

You have to be open minded in order to grow. The coaching that Laura gave me opened my eyes to what and how I was doing things and allowed me to see the bigger picture. I am not done yet but I already see the changes in my everyday life.

MM

I think coaching is a great way to help you clear your mind when you get stuck with overwhelming situations or when stepping into changes in your life.

MO

Coaching is life changing. It pushes you outside your comfort zone and challenges your perspectives.  It is highly motivating and the exercises and techniques used are both fun and informative.  I think the main benefits of coaching are to see yourself, others and the world more clearly.  I think coaching is valuable to anyone regardless of where you are in your life or career.

LE

I honestly never thought I’d need a coach. I thought coaching was for CEOs and industry VIPs. I didn’t think it was for the “little guys” (i.e. me). Now, I’m of the belief that everyone – yes, EVERYONE – needs a coach. Coaching has really benefitted me and I’m so grateful to have had that time with Laura. It’s changed my life!

VB

Laura is very patient. She took the time to understand what was causing me to be stuck where I am today and help me build a better vision so I can continue to grow.

MM

I think Laura’s coaching was what I had been waiting for. Laura was so approachable, kind, and open. Her willingness to help and support made a difference for me. I found in her coaching new strategies, ideas, and perspectives that I could incorporate into my goals and objectives that I didn’t see before.

MO

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LE

Laura is a natural coach. Her probing and compassionate questions helped me learn about myself: my value system, interests, goals and strengths.

LM

Coaching sessions with Laura gave me new perspectives on how to process specific feelings and situations in life.  She showed me how to sit with my emotions, acknowledge them, and then use visualization strategies to move through them.  I now feel more confident and in control of how I choose to walk through life.

CP

From the beginning, Laura put me at ease, creating a safe, open space for me to talk and share freely without fear of judgement. I loved the variety of approaches she used depending on the topic we were working on and it was fun being able to try out things I wouldn’t have considered before! With Laura’s coaching, I substantially grew my confidence in the workplace, overcame fears, dealt with issues I’d been carrying around for many years and, most importantly, learned to value myself and define a path forward into the future.

AG

Laura’s coaching was a breath of fresh air and EXACTLY what I needed at that point of my life. I didn’t realize how impactful coaching was going to be, but by the end of the sessions together, I left feeling refreshed, inspired and genuinely curious about what my future held for me. Because of Laura and her coaching, I believe I became a better person – someone who is more open-minded, someone with a clearer focus, and someone who is willing to explore opportunities and possibilities far more than I ever did before.

VB

I engaged Laura for coaching as I took on an expanded role leading an asset management company in Canada. As a female, I knew I would be a role model and had high expectations of myself. I was feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

In our first few coaching sessions we worked through exercises that allowed me to reflect on my purpose, leadership style and what mattered most to me. I continue to be grounded by the clarity I achieve in my coaching sessions – allowing me to be resilient and confident when challenges came my way.

OS