The Mihir Chronicles

Leveraging Both Ears

March 28, 2024

You are having a conversation with someone and next thing you know is you divert your attention to something else. Then you pull yourself back in and try to chime in while you missed a part of conversation.

How unauthentic?

There is a lot of difference between hearing and listening. To listen you need both of your ears. To hear, you can get by with one. Listening is actively trying to hear something. Hearing is passive without any intentional effort.

I have been mentoring people who are starting their professional journey. For me to guide them in the right direction, I have to be a good listener. If I could listen more than I speak, I could hear more which leads to better conversation and deeper connection with my mentees, colleagues and family members.

Great listening is an art! The biggest benefit of listening deeply is the reduction of reactive thoughts. Reactivity clouds judgment giving rise to negative thoughts and getting into your head causing analysis paralysis. Great listening allows you to be calm and understand different perspectives. What do you do to listen deeply?

First, listening requires you to think deeply about what someone is saying before you share your perspective. If you want to give precise feedback with actionable steps, repeat what the other person is saying, “[Person's Name], I heard you say X because you care about Y. Did I get that right?” Ensuring you are understanding what is being communicated is critical to listening.

Second, ask a lot of rich quality questions before jumping onto any conclusions. Humility & confidence are both important element of questions. You need confidence to ask questions, but you need humility to be vulnerable to ask questions. The real insights are in the questions you ask. The greater the proportion of questions, the better it is for conversation.

Third, you genuinely need to care about the person you are having a conversation with and the content they are speaking about. If either of them are not an interest to you, you are more likely to be disengaged in a conversation. To avoid this come from curiosity, not judgment. This is a key to being open-minded.

Once you have gathered information, it is time to react and give feedback.

You should always respond with feedback that energizes and mobilizes the person you are having a conversation with. The message should be short and clear. The message doesn't need to be novel because you are helping them process their own thoughts. They should walk away with precise feedback with actionable items.

If you listen attentively, you will understand. Leveraging both of your ears will never get you in trouble.