Importance of Listening

What is the importance of listening?

‘People just want to be heard.” Bill Thomason

When I teach Listening Skills in business trainings and public NLP trainings, a first intention is to broaden the definition of listening for people. What are we listening for/to anyway? The Computer model about information is Garbage IN/Garbage OUT. With regard human Information Processing (IP) it is Information IN/ Information OUT (Note: there’s a whole subdivision of Cognitive Psychology that is IP or Information Processing). A good introduction to NLP broadens this model to Info IN, make an internal representation (meaning), and then Info OUT. When another person is involved, (and I draw little people on my white board or flip chart to illustrate), Info OUT becomes Info IN to the other person and their Info OUT is your Info IN and back again to create a bio-feedback loop. NOTE: From inside the loop, you get different information than an observer will be able to perceive from outside the loop. Now, I want to broaden our understanding and usage to include the entire communication loop. Let’s bring into awareness what is said, what you do with your body, and what you SEE and HEAR from the communication of the other person including subtle cues, and analog marking (body movement plus marking out vocally). All this is part of listening.

So, from this foundational understanding, LISTENING includes all the aspects of communication. It includes whether I speak congruently from an alignment of my values which is the structure of compelling communication and people are more likely to HEAR what I’m saying (the meaning of my communication.) And, as an example of a skill set I teach, recognizing and speaking back a person’s KEY WORDS to them, just the way they said what they said is a skills that creates a deeper listening. KEY WORDS tend to be marked out and are often repeated. They have specific pictures, words, thoughts (mind talk) and feelings attached to them for the speaker. I may spend days on these skills. I also teach several ways to get to or elict values and experience that emotion is connected at the value level. When you share values with others, you deepen rapport and enhance relationship. When emotion is present encoding goes much deeper. I even had an NLP Practitioner student with a background in military intelligence work who says simply listening is one of his most important interrogation techniques. The experience of being heard by another human is a powerful motivator.

All of this I consider to be part of LISTENING SKILLS. If you are interested, there is a whole field of study around Listening and an International Listening Association (academically based) and you may want to read Larry Barker’s books and of course Albert Mehrabian and Birdwhistell all have things to say that relate to listening and rapport that are directly pertinent to NLP.

What is important to you about listening?

Contact Bill Thomason at 602 321-7192.