“I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.” – Larry King

What?

Listening is skill that requires practice. It is about putting aside our pre-conceived notions about someone and actively working to understand them through their expression. Active listening is devoting your full self – being present, focused, and receptive – to listening to others and prioritizing understanding what you hear over responding to it. 

 

Why?

Despite how good we may think we are at listening to others, data are simply not supportive of that!  While we spend a majority of our time communicating with one another and listening, we fail to truly hear others and understand what they are communicating to us.  When we listen to the perspectives and lived experiences of others, it challenges our preconceived notions of the world around us and provides an opportunity for growth.

How?

If you’ve committed yourself to building and reaching out to a more diverse social network, you must commit to actively listening to the words you read and hear in the resources shared with you.  Commit to not only hearing them, but actively listening to them: being present and focused, being open to hearing their words, understanding from their lens, retaining what they share to memory, and responding in a thoughtful way. 

Recommended Resources

Act for Impact

If I am in the learn stage of my journey I need to learn about active listening - what it entails, common challenges, and strategies to bolster my skills. My focus is on understanding the importance of active listening and the steps necessary to build the skill. 

What I can do to Listen:

  • Read and watch materials by subject matter experts that explain active listening

If I am in the grow stage of my learning journey, I should practice active listening. My focus is on changing myself -- how I think, react, interpret -- and ultimately how I "show up" in a space. 

What I can do to Listen:

  • Hone my active listening skills by practicing daily and employing the strategies shared in the resources provided: 
  • Listening deeply to songs, speeches, spoken poetry, and other expressions, particularly from people different than me

If I am in the lead stage of my learning journey, I am more informed, practiced, and better equipped to model authentic allyship, challenge the status quo, and affect change within my spheres of influence even when faced with adversity, resistance, or ignorance. My focus is inspiring others to examine their beliefs, learn, and grow. 

What I can do to Listen:

  • Engage team members and colleagues in discussions about the importance of active listening - share my knowledge and resources
  • Invite subject matter experts as guest speakers 
  • Offer team building or training activities that bolster listening skills 
  • Observe closely for actively listening as a demonstrated skill within your team -- call out good examples and support colleagues in recognizing opportunities for improvement