Listening Intelligence

How To Develop Listening Intelligence In Your Organization

Mandel has added an exciting new discipline to our suite of solutions.  With the addition of a Listening Science practice, we’ve expanded our expertise beyond thinking and speaking skills to also address listening skills.

Although listening has long been considered a static skillset, we now have the neuroscience-backed research to understand that the ability to listen more fully can be developed, and an investment in listening can enhance organizational cultures.  If you think about it, listening is core to the entire business ecosystem, it impacts decision-making, speed to innovation, team productivity, sales cycles and perhaps most importantly, it directly influences the health of corporate cultures.

After years of research and studying the latest scientific findings, we’ve established that listening is a trainable skill which if optimized, can significantly impact business outcomes.

Starting with the mechanics, we learned that hearing occurs in our ears and listening, or the way we translate what we hear, happens in our brains. Since no two brains are the same, no two people listen quite alike, meaning different individuals often hearing the same information translate it in their own way. For instance, have you ever attended an important meeting with several other highly competent colleagues and learn that each of you picked up different information from the gathering? We now have a much better understanding of how and why this common occurrence happens, and more importantly, ways to avoid it all together. The solution is developing our Listening Intelligence.

What is Listening Intelligence?

Listening intelligence is your ability to:

  • Understand how you listen: what you pick up in conversation and what you tend to miss.
  • Recognize the listening preferences of others: what they pick up from what you say and what they tend to miss.
  • Adapt how you speak into the listening preferences of others.

In order to fully develop your Listening Intelligence, it is important to become familiar with the four distinct listening habits; Connective, Reflective, Analytical and Conceptual. Once aware of characteristics for each habit, you can start to understand your own listening preferences, initiating the journey.

Let’s take a look at some of the basics that describe each of the listening habits:

Connective: The Connective listener focuses on what the interaction means for others. They filter what is heard through interests in other people, groups and audiences. They are socially intuitive and can pick up and respond to subtle cues.

Reflective: The Reflective listener focuses on what the interaction means for them. They filter what is heard through their own interests and purposes.

Analytical: The Analytical listener focuses on what the information means to an issue or objective outcome. They filter what is heard through an interest in results and facts.

Conceptual: The Conceptual listener focuses on the big picture and ideas, often abstract. They filter what is heard through an interest in concepts and possibilities.

With the distinctions of the four listening preferences, individuals can begin to master their own listening preferences and biases and from there, recognize the listening preferences of others. As you’ll learn, there are unique phrases and questions that correlate to each of the four listening habits. By observing others in conversation, individuals can start to appreciate the distinctions that will help them understand the listening of others.

Although this  approach is a radical shift in the way organizations have always thought about listening, we’re confident  that listening skills can be developed, and that you can train your employees to become more intelligent listeners.

For a deeper dive into Mandel’s Listening Practice, we invite you to listen to this recent Podcast in which I’m interviewed by industry thought leader, Chris Pirie of The Learning Futures Group:

We also welcome you to experience this video in which we introduce Mandel’s new training workshop, The Listening Edge™, available for teams as a Virtual Workshop and as an In-Person Workshop.

Picture of Dana Dupuis

Dana Dupuis

As Executive Director, Research & Development, Listening Science, Dana is responsible for leading Mandel’s Listening Science Practice. Dana brings a wealth of expertise in leadership development and communication to Mandel. A pioneer and expert in Listening Intelligence, she has spent her career exploring corporate communication and interpersonal collaboration to understand their effects on organizational well-being. Dana is a renowned speaker, presenter, and consultant. As a key member of Mandel’s executive team, she provides ongoing research into how listening serves management and leadership development. Dana is a member of The International Listening Association, where she speaks annually.
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