Connected Talking and Deep Listening

When a conversation with your spouse or a colleague ends in frustration and misunderstanding, it’s easy to blame the person on the receiving end. “You’re not listening!”

Similarly, when you read blogs like this one or this one here, you might get the impression that listeners are solely responsible for creating better conversations.

Of course, that’s not true.

Couples therapist Traci Ruble points out that we should pay more attention to how we talk. As she explains in this Wall Street Journal article, talkers are usually “too active”:

“The talker starts on a roll and never checks to see if they are being listened to, and the listener starts to feel objectified and thinks: ‘Do you even notice that I am here or are you just anxiously pouring out all your thoughts?’”

The better alternative is what Ruble calls ‘connected talking’.

As she lays out in the article, connected talkers are mindful of the listener’s point of view. Before launching into a conversation, they check whether this is a good time to talk and provide a hint as to what the listener can expect from the conversation (do you want to share happy news, or do you need advice?). And while talking, they stay connected so they are able to pick up cues as to whether the listener is feeling overwhelmed.

In other words, the connected talker makes it easier for the other person to listen.

The article reminded me of my podcast conversation with Australian executive coach Oscar Trimboli. Oscar introduced me to the term Deep Listening, which means listening more consciously at all five levels - not only for the words, but also for yourself, for context, for what’s not being said and for meaning.

As I noticed in our conversation, a deep listener is also a role model in how he or she talks. Oscar speaks slowly, uses a lot of pause and makes it easy for the other person to listen.

As you can read here, Oscar is on a quest to create 100 million deep listeners by 2030. We probably need a similar goal for connected talkers, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they are the exact same people.