The Mini Me in Listening

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We at Momentum Consulting are in the business of helping businesses accelerate and perform through executive and team training in leadership and high performance. We lead by example, utilizing our 26 Organizational Fundamentals in how we operate business. We can help your business uncover your organizational fundamentals and work on your listening practices in order to accelerate performance.

One of our primary fundamentals, and a key building block of our Leadership Coaching program, is the concept of listening generously. But just what does that actually mean? 

On the surface, this seems easy enough to do. You’re a generous person, right? Therefore, if you’re listening to another person, it would stand to reason that you’re listening generously to that individual.

However, when others are speaking, the person we are most often listening to is ourselves.

This tendency is often characterized as having a “Mini-Me” on your shoulder, whispering in your ear, sometimes wearing a halo and voicing your conscience and sometimes wearing horns. 

What is Mini Me saying when someone else is speaking? A few common examples:

  • “I wish she would get to the point.”
  • “He has no idea what he’s talking about.”
  • “I already know this.”
  • “I completely disagree.”
  • “I’ve been there, done that.”
  • “My way would be so much better.”
  • “I have so many things I need to be doing right now.”
  • “What am I going to have for lunch?”

Our internal thoughts, whether or not articulated, are incredibly noisy. We are very busy judging, agreeing, disagreeing or thinking about something completely unrelated to the conversation.

With all that noise, how can we truly hear?

Listening generously is more than simply not speaking. It takes intentional practice. You’ll notice that each example of internal dialogue listed above uses the pronouns I, me, or my, indicating that your listening is coming from your own perspective, which functions as a highly effective filter, keeping out much new information.

The most powerful element in listening generously is to listen from the speaker’s perspective. What is important to them? What is it they are trying to communicate? 

In order to listen from the speaker’s perspective, you must also give them your full attention, which entails curiosity, perhaps empathy, openness to possibilities, resisting the urge to formulate a response and – my personal favorite – NOT looking at your phone (I discussed this tendency a few months ago in this article).

A teacher of mine in grade school used to tell us we had two ears and one mouth, so should listen twice as much as we talk!

I’m listening, if you would like to share your thoughts on this.


Fundamental of the Week #2: LISTEN GENEROUSLY Give others your full attention, be present and engaged and set aside the internal conversation in your head as best you can.  Let go of your need to agree, disagree, or judge.  Be empathetic and listen for the needs of others. Listen with curiosity and make sure you get all the facts, separating facts from interpretations.

Momentum Consulting offers executive business coaching, top level executive consulting, team trainings, and team offsites to build and transform your business to the next level. Inquire about business consulting and leadership coaching today.

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