The Art & Science of Listening Listening skills for effective communication in the context of emotional intelligence Lifestage, Inc www.lifestage.org

The art & science of listening

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Page 1: The art & science of listening

The Art & Science of Listening

Listening skills for effective communication in the context of emotional intelligence

Lifestage, Incwww.lifestage.org

Page 2: The art & science of listening

CThe five domains

of emotional intelligence:ommunication

• Knowing your emotions. • Managing your own emotions. • Motivating yourself.• Recognizing and understanding

other people's emotions.• Managing relationships, i.e.,

managing the emotions of others.

Daniel Goleman, Working With Emotional Intelligence, Bantam Books 2006

Page 3: The art & science of listening

Trust & understanding are fundamental forces in human interaction

Emotional Intelligence enables us to appreciate and develop the vital connections between self, others, purpose, meaning, existence, life and the world as a whole, and to help others do the same.

• “Emotional Intelligence” www.businessballs.com/eq.htm

Establishing trust is about listening and receiving what others are expressing - not necessarily agreeing.

Page 4: The art & science of listening

Individuals who score higher in the ability to perceive accurately, understand, and appraise others’ emotions are better able to respond flexibly to changes in their social environments and build supportive social networks.Peter Salovey et al, “Coping Intelligently: Emotional Intelligence and the Coping Process” Coping:The Psychology of What Works C. R. Snyder, ed, Oxf

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Well-developed listening skills open the door to:

Greater cohesion among team or group members;

Greater productivity with fewer mistakes;

Increased sharing of information that in turn can lead to more creative and innovative work;


Page 6: The art & science of listening

Listening is the most fundamental component of interpersonal communication

Listening is not something that just happens, it is an active process in which a conscious decision is made to listen to and understand the messages of the speaker.

• “The skills you need” www.skillsyouneed.co.uk/IPS/active_listening.html#ixzzsMpHTGa5Y

Page 7: The art & science of listening

If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it…


the process of receiving, constructing meaning from,

and responding to spoken and/or nonverbal messages.

International Listening Association, 1996 www.listen.org

Page 8: The art & science of listening

Listening is the connective tissue of relationships

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”Brenda Ueland

Page 9: The art & science of listening

Listening is the conscious directing of attention

• Listening is about attention to the words and the music of other people and our interactions with them.

• Attention is an integration of mental, emotional and physical processes.

• The ability to direct and sustain attention is a skill that anyone can develop and is more directly related to emotional intelligence than IQ.

Page 10: The art & science of listening

Types of attention“When you actually pay attention to something you’re listening to, whether it is your favorite song or the cat meowing at dinnertime, a separate “top-down” neural pathway comes into play. Here, the signals are conveyed through a dorsal pathway in your cortex, part of the brain that does more computation, which lets you actively focus on what you’re hearing and tune out sights and sounds that aren’t as immediately important.” • Seth Horowitz, “The Science and Art of Listening” New York

Times, November 9, 2012

“Simple” or “startle” as when hearing an unexpected noise;

Stimulus-directed – as when we hear our name called or a favorite song

Page 11: The art & science of listening

The “music” of a person is what is expressed nonverbally

When a team member is not on the same emotional wavelength as the rest, the team needs to be emotionally intelligent vis-à-vis that individual. In part, that simply means being aware of areas of disconnect, misunderstanding or blocks in communication. Having a norm that encourages interpersonal understanding facilitates this awareness and provides a process for dealing with it.“Building The Emotional Intelligence of Groups” Harvard Business Review, March 2001

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“At its core, listening is connecting.”

The ability to understand the true spirit of a message as it is intended to be communicated, and demonstrate your understanding, is paramount in forming connections and leading effectively.• “The Discipline of Listening” Harvard Business Review, June 21,


Emotionally Intelligent teams and groups create norms that build trust and a sense of identity among members. These norms are maintained through active attentive listening and response to what is expressed both directly and nonverbally:

“Building The Emotional Intelligence of Groups” Harvard Business Review, March 2001

Page 13: The art & science of listening

Emotional awareness is directly linked to the ability to focus attention

“Perception is influenced by the emotional state of the observer. In other words, how we perceive the world does not only depend on what we know of the world, but also by how we feel.”

“When research subjects were asked to retell a brief story they had to memorize, participants in a negative mood tended to report details, whereas participants in a positive mood tended to report the gist of the story. Interestingly, in perceptual processing, a similar effect is observed.”

Jolij J, Meurs M (2011) Music Alters Visual Perception. PLoS ONE 6(4): e18861. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018861

Page 14: The art & science of listening

Our capacity to learn and to listen is profoundly impacted by our emotional state

• In a study of the effectiveness of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) to learning, its impact was strongly seen in shaping children’s developing neural circuitry, particularly the executive functions of the prefrontal cortex, which manage working memory – what we hold in mind as we learn – and inhibit disruptive emotional impulses.


Page 15: The art & science of listening

Active listening is “involved listening with a purpose”

• Using all available senses to take in the verbal and nonverbal expression of others;

• Paraphrasing what is heard to check understanding and ensure accurate perceptions;

• Providing feedback through verbal and nonverbal responses to the speaker and the speaker’s message.

Listening and Critical Thinking” Fundamentals of Communication Studies, Chapter 5, http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/dl/free/0073385018/537865/pearson3_sample_ch05.pdf

• Anyone can improve their active listening skills through either experience or training. Awareness and management of our own emotional life are key to active listening.

Page 16: The art & science of listening

When listening to another person:

Set judgments aside to take in what a person is saying

Allow others the opportunity of a complete hearing - to go into depth and detail without beinginterrupted

• Disagree without being disagreeable

• Try to understand how the other person feels, and to discover what they want to achieve. http://www.businessballs.com/empathy.htm

Page 17: The art & science of listening

Attention is a choice• “The richness of life doesn’t lie in

the loudness and the beat, but in the timbres and the variations that you can discern if you simply pay attention.

• Listen to new music when jogging rather than familiar tunes. Listen to your dog’s whines and barks: he is trying to tell you something isn’t right. Listen to your significant other’s voice — not only to the words, which after a few years may repeat, but to the sounds under them, the emotions carried in the harmonics.”

• “Listening is a skill that we’re in danger of losing in a world of digital distraction and information overload.”Seth Horowitz, “The Science and Art of

Listening” New York Times, November 9, 201

Page 18: The art & science of listening

Directing attention is a skill that grows with practice


Page 19: The art & science of listening

Mindfulness practices strengthen listening skills

• Stilling the mind involves not becoming distracted by our own train of thoughts so as to remain fully present with others. Being completely in the present moment means giving full attention to the interaction with other people. Yoga and meditation are two practices that help cultivate this core listening skill. “Your Mind At Work: New Ways To Approach Those Niggling Challenges In The Office” Mindful, April 2013, p. 55

Page 20: The art & science of listening

Mindfulness cultivates listening skills – and reduces emotional stress

• Practice following a simple behavior (like slowing down your breathing) or object (like the flame of a candle). The repeated return to a focal point trains attention.

• To reduce the irritation of others’ gossip, office politics or difficult personalities: Let others talk about themselves and make it a practice to silence judgment and listen for what causes their pain.

• To reduce frustration with lack of progress in self or others: Listen fully to a longer piece of music without doing anything else. Just listen. This helps train the mind and emotions to appreciate rhythms rather than trying to force things.

• “Your Mind At Work: New Ways To Approach Those Niggling Challenges In The Office” Mindful, April 2013, p. 55

Page 21: The art & science of listening

Music and mood are closely interrelated

• Listening to a sad or happy song on the radio can make us feel more sad or happy. Such mood changes not only affect how we feel, they also influence our perception.

• Listening to music that improves our own mood enhances attention and openness to others.

Jacob Jolij, Maaike Meurs. Music Alters Visual Perception. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (4): e18861

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“In a story, you not only weave a lot of information into the telling but you also

arouse your listener’s emotion and energy.”

• “Stories fulfill a profound human need to grasp the patterns of living—not merely as an intellectual exercise, but within a very personal, emotional experience.”

“Storytelling That Moves People” Harvard Business Review, June 2003

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MRI scans of a person telling a true, personal story and that of a listener show that when the listener was engaged brain activity mirrored that of the storyteller

Page 24: The art & science of listening

“Neural coupling” occurs in successful communication

• The findings indicate that during successful communication, speakers’ and listeners’ brains exhibit joint, temporally coupled, response patterns. Such neural coupling substantially diminishes in the absence of communication, such as when listening to an unintelligible foreign language.

“Speaker-listener neural coupling underlies successful communication” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science Vol. 107 No. 32 http://www.pnas.org/content/107/32/14425.full

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“When others speak, we typically divide our attention between what they are saying now and

what they are going to say next -

For many of us, the opposite of talking isn’t listening, it’s waiting.”

Daniel Pink, To Sell Is Human, Riverhead Books, 2012, p. 190

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“Listening is the quality control of communications.”

“Listening with purpose should be about listening with the intent to learn, understand and possibly be changed because of the exchange.”

Karen Natzel, “Fuel Your Curiosity, Listen With Purpose”Daily Journal of Commerce, November 27, 2012


Page 27: The art & science of listening

“I have no particular talent. I am only passionately curious.”Albert EinsteinThe New Quotable Einstein, Alice Calaprice, ed, Princeton University Press, 2005

Page 28: The art & science of listening


• Lifestage is a training and consulting company that designs creative, experiential programs for personal and professional development. Read articles by Lifestage trainers at www.livesinprogressnewsletter.blogspot.com

• To book a training workshop for your group, organization or staff contact Jude Treder-Wolff at 631-366-4265 or [email protected]