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November 7, 2011

New Headphones
You hope the most important people in your professional life are great listeners (the boss, the client, the vendor, the sub-ordinate, peer or assistant), and you CERTAINLY want the very best listening skills for you children, parents, spouses, friends, teammates/partners, employees, etc.  But YOUR listening is just fine, right?  Well, if you have the slightest notion that YOUR listening can improve, here are more steps to Listening for Success!!!


Returning for a moment to the distinction between hearing and listening, we can see that, like all senses, the primary purpose of hearing is “survival.”  The primary reason we can hear (and listen, for that matter) is to protect ourselves from physical danger…first and foremost!  So, let’s assume this need for physical survival serves as a first level filter that only 2000 out of 4 billion bits of data “gets through” and into our conscious.  Next, let’s assume that the remaining 2000 is screened for physical threat and found to present none.  When we (decide we) are not in physical danger, where does the focus of our listening turn?  What are the primary “purposes” of listening when we are “safe” physically?  That’s right!  Emotional!

Our listening will be pointed in the direction of survival first and THEN what will make us “FEEL” the best.  Here are the five broad categories that represent our “purposes” for listening:

  • Survival:  Again, first and foremost we listen to protect ourselves physically!  Everything else represents or is intended to fulfill “emotional” survival
  • Informational:  This purpose is to “help the self” through the acquisition of information…this includes information that protects us physically, but more often than not it leads to emotional fulfillment (knowledge = power, significance, certainty, safety etc.).
  • Empathetic:  This purpose is to “help others” by attending so much to what they are sharing that you “put yourself in their shoes.”  The closest we can ever truly BE to BEING someone else is to listen to him or her.  It is from that place of absolute empathetic (selfless) listening that we are of most help to others.
  • Evaluative:  To decide, after learning how the world “is”, what that MEANS to us…how we FEEL about the way the world IS…and how we wish to behave in the world.
  • Appreciation:  To be impressed, motivated, enlightened, entertained or to feel any other form of variety/excitement (adrenaline, adventure, fantasy, novelty etc.).

Can you see how the “bits” that make it into consciousness will fall into one or more of these categorical purposes?  Secondly, can you see that these purposes are not mutually exclusive…and therefore how easily can you see that these purposes may be “competing” for attention each second, minute or hour of even the BEST “attention spans?”  Therefore, Step Four towards improved listening is to “know your purpose” and be able to continually remind yourself WHY you are or should be attending to the one to the exclusion of all others that are competing for your conscious attention!

So, what are you doing to improve your listening skills?

Wolf Management offers customized workshops, seminars, trainings and private coaching that will improve your listening and help you improve the listening of others on your team, staff, jury, committee, or household.  Click here to explore a customized Listening Program for you!


From → Communication

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