27 ways to grow bigger ears

Last week I briefly talked about growing bigger ears.

Since then I’ve received tons of awesome feedback on the topic of listening. (If you still have tips and ideas, email scott@hellomynameisscott.com)

So, here’s my ever-growing list of Ways to Grow Bigger Ears:

1) Be less worried about what you’re planning to say next.

2) As soon as your follow-up question or rebuttal is formed, jot down just the major ideas (usually just nouns and verbs) to jog your memory when it’s your turn to speak.

3) In a pinch (i.e. sans paper), assign the thought to a finger which and tap gently on the desk or the arm of your chair.

4) The key is to free up your thought processes to be able to hear,
interpret, and internalize the content of an incoming message. It will
make you a better listener, and should deter you from jumping in too
early with a response.

(Thanks, Peter Marinari)

5. When in a restaurant, sit with your back to the TV so you aren’t distracted.

6. Ask questions on the information being presented.

7. Avoid turning the conversation back to you. If you use the word “I” alot, you are breaking that rule.

8. Listen for the suble difference between “I need you to solve my problem” vs “I am just telling you what frustrates me.”

9. Don’t anticipate the direction of the conversation in order to push it along faster than normal.

10. Don’t cut people off. Let them finish.

(Good stuff, Tony Chimento)

11) I always know that I am listening intently when I can see the size of my conversation partner’s pupils change size as the conversation happens. Don’t know why, but it works for me.

(Bravo, Debby “CNP Guru” Peters)

12) Aggressive Listening – listens to gather evidence for a position of view that is already fixed and confirmed. Listens with an agenda, and starts from the conclusion. This type of listening is closed, rigid and certain. It seeks to win a victory.

13) Learning Listening – listens in order to discover something new, to learn and understand – to be changed. Listens in order to focus on the other, and give them the gift of being truly heard. This type of listening is open, flexible and uncertain. The aim here is to win a relationship.

14) Restraint – Focus on the other person and avoid introducing your own story. Allow the other person’s story to stand on its own merit, without your commentary.

15) Questioning – To demonstrate your listening and to listen better ask open-ended questions that help to clarify (“What does that mean? Help me to understand this better…”), dig deeper (“Can you tell me more about…” “Please expand on this…”) or create a new angle. This can also the other person to understand their own story better!

16) Self-reflection – Often when we listen to others, our own body and mind begin to “resonate” with what we’re hearing. We listen with more than just our ears, intuitively we connect with the other person at a very deep level, and this can sometimes be “felt” in the “gut” or the “heart”. We may feel a particular emotion, or we may find ourselves getting agitated or tired. As we listen to the other person, we can tune in to what is happening within us, and this can help us to understand far more deeply than if we just use our ears.

(Solid content! Thanks John van de Laar)

17) (L I S T E N) has the same letters as (S I L E N T).

(Sweet. Thanks Michelle!)

18) Don’t jump ahead mentally to compose your response.

19) Include the speaker’s non verbals into how you “take in” what they are saying. The classic example of this is when someone says “Whatever” with body language that signifies that the outcome of whatever the debate/question had been is actually something they are heavily vested in.

19) Eye contact. I know this is one of those obvious basics, but I have a 7 year old who (like his father) doesn’t make eye contact readily. When I was lecturing him on why he received a “needs work” evaluation regarding his listening skills at gymnastics, he said, “just because I’m not looking doesn’t mean I’m not listening.” People don’t know that eye contact is critical.

(Cool, gracis to Paula E. Kiger from Florida Healthy Kids Corp.

20) Listen with your emotional ears, too.

21) Listen for the little pieces of info that can spur further questions.

22) 1 way NOT to grow bigger ears: DON’T grow a bigger head! It WON’T work ! 🙂

(From my old friend Allison, from KidSmart)

23) If it is more than a casual encounter take notes.

24) If at the end of twenty or thirty minutes of talking you’ve only got a few lines filled in, you probably talked more than you listened.

25) Want a real kick in the ass? Give a notepad to your client or guest and see who comes up with more notes at the end. If it’s them, how does that make you look?

26) I always repeat back someone’s name to them when we first meet, or else I’m likely to forget.

27) Throughout the event/party/meeting, I will look around the room and say to myself the names of the people I’ve met, just to reinforce it. It’s like I listen to the person the first time, then I listen to my mental repetitions after that!

(Good call, Coach Lisa.)

What are your best tips for growing bigger ears?

If you’d (still) like to contribute your tips for growing bigger ears, please email your best listening tips to scott@hellomynameisscott.com.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag

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