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Are you listening? Four levels of proof

In this spontaneous video Craig outlines four ways to prove that you are listening, or not. And he puts them in order of effectiveness: Level 1 to level 4.

Here’s a Good Group Tip that Craig wrote on this same topic: Demonstrate Listening.

This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody! Hey it’s Craig Freshley here. Are you listening? Here’s four ways to prove it.

Actually before I tell you the four ways to prove that you’re listening, I want to say a little bit about why listening is just so important.

First of all if I let you talk first while I listen, I have a much better chance of saying something that is going to be meaningful. I have a much better chance of doing things that are likely to be successful because they are based on more information. Listening rather than talking is generally much more valuable to me.

Second, if I am really listening to you I am building credibility. I am showing you that I care about what you say. I am demonstrating respect. I am building rapport with you.

When I’m listening I have four choices about how to react.

Number one: not demonstrate at all that I heard what you said. You could say something and I could immediately say something back that apparently ignores what you said, or I could move on to another person or another topic that apparently ignores what you said. If I do that to somebody else, they’re going to feel disrespected they’re not going to want to engage with me in the future and I will have lost my credibility with them. That is one choice that I have.

A second choice that I have is to say something back like, “Oh yeah, I understand,” and then move on or “I get what you’re saying,” and move on. I’ll come back to that in a minute.

Third choice I can repeat back to them a little bit of what they said. For example, “Oh yeah, I hear what you mean I didn’t really like that lunch appetizer either. It was way too spicy and it wasn’t warm enough.” I have demonstrated that I really heard what they said because I repeated back to them the things that they told me. Maybe I used my own words, maybe I used their words, but I demonstrated that I was listening.

See that’s different from Level 2 where I just might say something back like, “Oh yeah, I understand or I get it, I get what you’re saying.” We tend to do that Level 2 listening quite a lot but we could be making it up. There is no actual evidence that I did understand what the person was saying unless I repeat it back.

Level 1: ignore completely. Level 2: make a vague statement like “I understand.” Level 3: repeat back some of what they said.

Level 4: act on what you heard somebody say. Actually change your behavior and let them see that you are changing your behavior based on what they said.

Those are four different ways to react to somebody saying or telling me something. They have increasing levels of effectiveness for building rapport, showing respect, and actually having an impact on how I behave better in the world because I listened.

Thanks for listening everybody! I hope this helps your group actually make good decisions.

10 thoughts on “Are you listening? Four levels of proof

  1. Listening can be tricky, can’t it? I find sometimes that I have to be very intentional in my listening BEFORE the conversation even starts. This requires tuning in to my own capacity for attention, and clearing my own agenda if I have to – which, depending on the speaker and the topic – I may have to. Thanks for the subject Craig! BTW, I just signed a contract with a publisher for my book on Head, Heart & Hands listening, in which you are featured in a segment!

  2. Referring to Heidi’s question re: someone finishing what you are saying. Even if they are correct in how they finish your sentence, the act of finishing someone’s sentence for them seems to me to be incredibly rude. It speaks of impatience, and not really listening because the responder is eager to get on with what they want to say. It is basically an interruption.

  3. Excellent topic! I took a very intense course in listening when I worked as the Cutter Labs blood products specialist in ME-NH-VT from 1970 to 1990. It was the most valuable sales tool in my toolbox: listening.

  4. We can’t get enough reminders of the power and importance of listening to really hear with our family and friends and at work. Thanks, Craig.

  5. When someone is able to finish correctly what you are trying to say, what level is that? What about when they follow up what you say with a relevant question?

    1. Thanks for writing Heidi? Finishing a sentence correctly or asking a relevant questions are also great ways to prove and demonstrate listening. Not sure what level each of these are but they are both excellent examples. Thanks for bringing them!

  6. I do try to practice good listening skills…
    and that means it is SUCH a good thing to have them re-Freshley-ed and reenforced. this was, as per usual >>>really informative and well done Craig.



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