Sounds like a strange topic. You will be amazed how many people struggle with listening. They hear the other party/parties, but they are not listening. Or based on their background, their perception of the message is different. Listening is the key to your journey, to your learning and to your successful future.

Here is some food for thought on the three levels of listening. Depending on the level you’re using, you will hear very different things. I use this all the time. It took discipline to start with. We listen or we think we are listening, but how often do you find yourself already formulating a response when the person who you are conversing with hasn’t even finished what they are saying? Yes, we all are guilty of this. Well, that can change – overtime of course with a bit of practice. Try out the techniques below.

Courtesy of Henry Berman and Jen Lachman.

Internal listening

  • Awareness is on me, the listener. I’m hearing my thoughts, my feelings, my ideas, and my judgments.
  • The question I’m asking myself here is, “What does this mean to me?”
  • At this level of listening, you may be listening to respond.
  • As a philanthropist, you may use internal listening to ensure your foundation’s needs and priorities, or your own goals as a leader, are being advanced in a conversation.

Focused listening

  • I lose all awareness of self at this level of listening. I have laser focus on the other person.
  • I notice what the other person is saying and not saying (emotions, energy, and body language).
  • Focused listening allows us to hear people in a much deeper way. In philanthropy, you can use this level of listening to understand someone else’s unique ideas, thoughts, and perspectives.

Global listening

  • I have a 360-degree soft focus when I’m listening globally.
  • I’m listening to everything I can observe with my senses—in the person talking, in myself, and in the environment.
  • Global listening gives you greater access to your senses and intuition. As a philanthropist, you could use global listening during a site visit or a meeting with a group of people.

Having read this, which level of listening is easiest for you to access? And what does it take for you to shift into the other levels of listening—so that you can hear and understand others more deeply?

Rate yourself. Repeat this exercise on a weekly basis. Ask your friends, family, colleagues, etc for feedback. Is there a difference?
Good luck!