Hump Day Wisdom: The Toughest Listening Drill You Will Ever Find

Hump Day Wisdom: A listening practice drill guaranteed to test and improve your skills.

One of the things that coaches do is provide practice drills to develop key skills.  Listening is a foundational skill for leadership.  So, here is a great hump-day practice drill that any leader can do to deepen listening skills (and emotional balance in the bargain).

Try listening to the presidential candidate you are NOT planning to vote for in the upcoming election.  Listen for full understanding of his point of view.  Can you see the world as he doe?  Remember, understanding does not require agreement or approval.  You need not attempt to adopt his point of view.  Just listen intently enough that you could fully and accurately articulate it to someone else, helping that third person to fully understand the point of view. 

  • Can you set your judgments aside and truly strive to understand his point of view?
  • What are your emotional responses and what is required to put them aside in order to remain present to listen fully?
  • What tricks does your mind play to distract you from the full intent of the exercise?  Typical tricks of this nature are thoughts like “it is useful to understand the enemy.” or “Well if youa re a bleeding hear/ reactionary of course you see things that way”.  True perhaps, but still a distraction from the intent of truly understanding.

This is an especially powerful drill if you are rabidly FOR one candidate.  (If you are politically ambivalent, substitute any public figure who gets your blood boiling.)  Listen and strive to be able, even for a moment, to see the world as they do.  The stronger your current stand is that this candidate represents a threat to the American people, the economy and the world, the more beneficial this exercise will be for you.

Fully listen to a ten minute stump speech.  Can you reduce your internal debate, formulation of your responses, judgments and even sarcasm?  Can you listen with the sole purpose of fully understanding that person’s point of view and reasoning?  Great!  Now, imagine the impact on your staff, customers, vendors and colleagues if they knew you were listening that intently to them, even when you disagree. �