The Art of Listening: Do You Hear What I Hear?

Written by Dr. Kelly Whelan

Dr. Whelan is the Founder and CEO of Belem LLC. She specializes in partnering, empowering, and positioning executive leaders and teams for success by helping them design strategies that create stakeholder impact.

May 15, 2020


When words are heard deeply, insight and awareness can follow.


Do you ever feel like no one is listening?   


Maybe your point isn’t getting across, or what you said was misunderstood?

As a professional coach, I spend about 80% of my time listening to my client.

On a scale of 1 (low) 10 (high), where to do you rate your listening??

Early on, I learned there are levels of listening. When this was discovered, I realized my listening skills needed work in order to honor my clients and up my game as a coach.

To break down a complex topic, let’s look at three types of listening:

  1. Informal: The most common and basic form of listening. It is passive. You hear words and listen for information or facts that are applicable to you.
  2. Active: During active listening, a person goes beyond listening for facts and information; you are engaged in listening. At this level, the leader is focused on the client and may ask questions to clarify.  This level of listening is participative and allows the client, customer, employee to feel more at ease.
  3. Intuitive:  Is the highest level of listening.  During this interaction, the leader seeks to uncover inconsistencies or what may be behind the words. The leader looks for body language, changes in attitude, and emotions. 

Which level do you tune in at?


Your Challenge

Would you like to gain strength in your listening skills? If your answer is “yes” it’s time to take the listening challenge!

During your next conversation, take note of your listening skills, on purpose.

After the conversation, ask yourself these questions:

  • What were the main points of the conversation?
  • What did I hear?
  • What didn’t I hear?
  • What contributions did I make that were helpful during the conversation?
  • Did I jump ahead in my mind thinking about what to say next?
  • How did I present and position myself to hear?
  • Did my emotions get in the way of hearing?

Leaders who listen at a “intuitive level” are able to discover themes and listen deeply.

Trust and authenticity are created through genuine listening. Your people are heard and therefore, valued.


How did you do?

You’ll be happy to know listening is a skill that can be developed through training.  A hearing ear is one of the most important skills a coach can bring to the coaching conversation and a gift a leader can give to their people.

Although some people acquire skills earlier than others based on genetics, environment, or availability of training, listening skills are developed over time as part of a collection of tools for effective communication.

Leave me a comment below and tell me how your listening challenge went!

Until next time, keep doing great things!

Be sure to tune in to our podcast CONVERSATIONS For Leaders & Teams, or on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or your favorite listening platform!

Click here to purchase your copy of Leadership Excellence By Design: Strategies For Sustainability & Strength on Amazon!

Leadership By Design. Book by Dr. Kelly Whelan.


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