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The Sound of Listening


Forming the answer in your mind while someone is talking; thinking of what you will do for dinner while attending a presentation; rationalizing in your head why the person speaking to you is wrong; engaging in distracting direct message chat during a video call.


All of this is noise, and it keeps us from what it sounds like to listen effectively. Yes, listening has a sound, and it is not the same as noise.


Sound is what we hear, and noise disrupts what we hear. Noise keeps us from being present, staying curious, and impacts our effectiveness and that of our team. We must quiet the noise in our head by inviting sound.


In music, you may be familiar with terms related to its sound, such as:


Melody–referred as the tune, message of sound–something that is memorable and motivates action


Pitch–type of sound; be it higher or lower–calls attention to the changes in tune


Tone–quality of the sound–the mood that is created, the energy it generates


Harmony-brings together unique sounds to build on melody–has a pleasing effect and shows progress


We can relate these elements to how we show up as effective listeners with the sound created by #curiosity, #empathy, #possibility, and #value:


Find the Melody–Replace “forming the answer in your mind,” by motivating action with:


Curiosity: What message is this person trying to convey? What are they trying to achieve?


Define the Pitch–Replace “what should I do for dinner tonight,” by raising attention with:


Empathy: What is the perspective of this person? What is their outlook on the situation?


Understand the Tone–Replace “rationalizing why the person speaking is wrong,” by generating energy with:


Possibility: Could the opposite of what I am thinking be true? Who else needs to weigh in?


Bring Harmony–Replace “distracting direct message chat,” by enabling progress with:


Value: What voice can I contribute to help move this message/idea/conversation forward? What suggestions can I offer for others to consider?


Noise is inevitable and is not always something we create. The good news is when you employ these methods, you are empowered to control its disruption by choosing sound over noise. This will create your sound to listening and enhance the value and contribution you bring to others and your organization.


How can you replace noise with sound today?

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