Executive coach and author of Are You Listening or Just Waiting to Speak, Jane Adshead-Grant is the guest on today’s show. She shares deep insights about listening with host Kevin Monroe, including why she discourages note-taking during conversations.
Listen to the Episode:
Don’t Take Notes
Kevin often creates some questions to ask podcast guests as a springboard to their conversation. While they are speaking, he jots down notes so that he remembers important points or ideas he wants to revisit. Jane discourages this practice. She says that instead of taking notes, he should trust himself. When you listen deeply, you’re allowing the speaker to continue to think and speak at their very best. You will remember the essential elements of what they said, she assures Kevin. To listen deeply, you must first be at ease with yourself as the listener; you must know that both speaker and listener have equal capacity to think, listen and share; and you must appreciate each other for the qualities that you see in one another.
The Gift of Time
Kevin asks what listeners can do to be more present in the conversation. Jane advises them to give themselves the gift of this time, free from judgment, distraction and interruption. Distraction can be both internal and external, she says. An example of internal distraction is when your mind wanders; she advises that you should mentally check yourself when this happens and bring your focus back to the conversation. The most common external distraction is the phone: just put it on silent. When you actively give your attention – paying attention is more passive and reactive, Jane says – you’re giving respect to the other person. You’re saying that in this moment they are more important than anything else.
Let Silence Do the Heavy Lifting
Jane writes in her book that we should let silence do the heavy lifting. Kevin asks her to unpack that statement. She explains that people need time to process questions or information. Giving them the opportunity to pause while they process their thoughts is a real gift. Humans think in waves and pauses: we have a wave of thinking, and then we naturally pause. If we allow that silence for long enough, the brain itself will soar once more in a new way, Jane says.
The brain receives an interruption like an assault, Jane reveals. One of the greatest things we can do is resist the urge to interrupt and allow the person to complete their thoughts, feelings and ideas. Interrupting prevents the person from flourishing into who they are meant to become. If you absolutely must interrupt, you should do it as gracefully as possible, while the person takes a pause. If you inadvertently interrupt someone, apologize.
Listening is a Gift
Jane reminds us that listening is a gift that is worth mastering because it shows how much you care. When you listen to someone to generate their best thinking, it frees them to be more, to create more, to feel more courageous. Whereas time is the currency of leadership, listening is the currency of relationship.