Learning to Listen

“The biggest communication problem, is we do not listen to understand, we listen to reply”

Iffet Burton, from our second Open Programme cohort, shares how her understanding of listening was transformed as a result of her She Leads Change experience.

“Deep listening is where you focus on the person in front of you: you do not speak, you try to stay out of your own head and really hear the words/emotions/expressions of the speaker.”

About, three weeks into the She Leads Change Open Programme, I began to grasp how to listen, yet a year later, I’d sometimes reflect on conversations, and realise I was away in my head and not really listening…then felt upset at having left someone feeling less special than they deserve.  We like to be listened to…

I have always listened and as a Teacher, my students were annoyed with my ability to be across the room talking to one person and pick up their conversation at the other end (just like most parents can) – they were, of course, off topic and I would let them know they needed to stop.  What I did not realise, is that I learnt a habit of looking like I was distracted when listening to others. 

When I first started in Pearson this habit was noted, and some of my peers felt I did not listen when they spoke to me.  I could not understand why as I always gave the correct responses and actioned everything.  It took my going on the She Leads Change Open course to learn about the skill of deep listening to understand why.

So here’s a partial ‘I’m sorry’ to those who thought I was not listening to them.  

I try very hard now, to stay in focus on what is being said to me and I get a better response.  I also remember not to multi-task when someone is asking for my help, I have learnt to say: please give me a moment, finish my task and go and give them my undivided attention.

It can be part of the issue with remote working, that some people feel they are marginalised and not heard or able to participate in discussions.  I read a document written by the Pearson Senior HR Manager, Kevin Lyons who publishes on GroSum which points to this situation.   

So next time you are tempted to type whilst on the phone, or type while answering a question to a colleague, consider if you left them feeling they knew the answer and had been heard, or would they leave and find someone else, not entirely sure you knew what they asked or discussed?

Our Spring 2020 Open Programme starts on 18th February.

The three month peer mentoring programme helps women better manage their internal narratives, successfully navigate personal and professional relationships and lead from a place of confidence.

We would love to have you join us. Apply now or get in touch with Laura if you have any questions.

Inside our Open Programme

Lamese Waterfield, who completed our Open Programme earlier this year, sheds light on some of the areas the programme covers and the results and effects that she is now seeing.

Self Authentic leadership is about having a deep sense of self, knowing your strengths but also your weaknesses. The programme starts the journey of greater self-awareness and purpose, to be able to lead from the heart.  

I now more clearly see the value I bring to my role and projects and I am more confident about injecting my values within my role and organisation. I am speaking up with more courage, clarity, self-belief and ownership.

Other From active listening to deep listening we were given tools and techniques to develop our presence. We practiced the different levels of listening to help deepen interactions in meetings, work, projects and relationships. 

Learning how to fully listen has helped me manage meetings better and develop more impactful relationships at work.

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Whole How do we fit into the various systems within which we operate? What’s in our control in the work we do and what role can we play to create change? The programme gave us the opportunity to explore our beliefs and assumptions connected to the systems we operate in and together, we created new possibilities for ourselves, our organisations and our communities.

I have a better sense of when to step in and when not to, a more holistic understanding of all moving parts and where my role sits. Clarity about how I work in the system has helped me start to crack impostor syndrome!

Resilience Resilience is a vital in the workplace and our personal lives. On the three-month journey we explored and unpicked resilience to build clarity on boundaries, accountability and developing your voice. 

I met a former colleague recently and we spoke in-depth about resilience because we both suffered under the same manager. She asked how I felt about that time now and I simply said: “I will never allow anyone to treat me that way again and let it go on for so long but I also take responsibility because I allowed it to happen and that’s something I won’t do again either.”

Vulnerability Allowing yourself to be vulnerable creates space for growth. Brené Brown speaks of vulnerability and leadership – the courage to step up in uncertain times and being fully exposed to the discomfort of possible failure. The programme provides a safe space with like-minded women to explore the power of vulnerability.

Theory U has stuck with me and I use it my personal and professional life – the process of letting go (of our old ego and self) and letting-come (our highest future possibility) was very powerful and I am still working with that inner place of stillness where knowing comes to the surface.

And above all else I met the most inspiring group of women – we are there to support each other, leading change together.

Get in touch if you would like to learn more, or just go ahead and apply here!