Are You Listening?

–with Jane Adshead-Grant

Executive coach and author of Are You Listening or Just Waiting to Speak, Jane Adshead-Grant is the guest on today’s show. She shares deep insights about listening with host Kevin Monroe, including why she discourages note-taking during conversations.

Don’t Take Notes

Kevin often creates some questions to ask podcast guests as a springboard to their conversation. While they are speaking, he jots down notes so that he remembers important points or ideas he wants to revisit. Jane discourages this practice. She says that instead of taking notes, he should trust himself.

When you listen deeply, you’re allowing the speaker to continue to think and speak at their very best.

You will remember the essential elements of what they said, she assures Kevin. To listen deeply, you must first be at ease with yourself as the listener; you must know that both speaker and listener have equal capacity to think, listen and share; and you must appreciate each other for the qualities that you see in one another.

The Gift of Time

Kevin asks what listeners can do to be more present in the conversation. Jane advises them to give themselves the gift of this time, free from judgment, distraction, and interruption. Distraction can be both internal and external, she says. An example of internal distraction is when your mind wanders; she advises that you should mentally check yourself when this happens and bring your focus back to the conversation. The most common external distraction is the phone: just put it on silent. When you actively give your attention – paying attention is more passive and reactive, Jane says – you’re giving respect to the other person. You’re saying that in this moment they are more important than anything else.

Let Silence Do the Heavy Lifting

Jane writes in her book that we should let silence do the heavy lifting. Kevin asks her to unpack that statement. She explains that people need time to process questions or information. Giving them the opportunity to pause while they process their thoughts is a real gift. Humans think in waves and pauses: we have a wave of thinking, and then we naturally pause. If we allow that silence for long enough, the brain itself will soar once more in a new way, Jane says.

Don’t Interrupt

The brain receives an interruption like an assault, Jane reveals. One of the greatest things we can do is resist the urge to interrupt and allow the person to complete their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Interrupting prevents the person from flourishing into who they are meant to become. If you absolutely must interrupt, you should do it as gracefully as possible, while the person takes a pause. If you inadvertently interrupt someone, apologize.

Listening is a Gift Jane reminds us that listening is a gift that is worth mastering because it shows how much you care. When you listen to someone to generate their best thinking, it frees them to be more, to create more, to feel more courageous. Whereas time is the currency of leadership, listening is the currency of relationship.


Kevin Monroe
Kevin Monroe
Kevin Monroe helps people flourish on the road less traveled in business, leadership, and life so they make their dent in the universe. Since he was a teenager, he has usually chosen roads less traveled which usually involve going against the grain and seeking to go with the flow. All in hopes of making the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. His unique contribution to the world is creating environments, hosting encounters, and crafting experiences where people are inspired, equipped, and encouraged to live, love, and lead in extraordinary ways. He hosts a variety of events and experiences designed to do just that including; the Higher Purpose Podcast, The Gratitude Challenge, This ExtraOrdinary Life, and most recently, The League of Extraordinary Difference Makers. Kevin holds a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University and an undergraduate degree in theology from Mercer University. He lives in Woodstock, GA with his lovely wife, Gwen. They are the parents of two adult children and one precocious granddaughter, Emma.

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  1. Thanks for listening, Aldo, and even more for engaging in and extending the conversation. Your comment gets me thinking (and I’m always grateful to expand my thinking) — listening is probably one of the highest forms of respect. Especially when the one listening is a leader and may hold a higher position of authority in the organization. Thanks for sharing the insight.

  2. Listening is a form of respect. In the Pythagorean school the novices spent their first year of studies in silence because they had to learn to listen. Listening was considered one of the most difficult and important learning steps. Is one of the most relevant skills in fiduciary relationships. Listening without stopping at the first level means understanding the needs but also the differences and positions that are not shared. It is an essential skill to generate trust within the company, as well as in the relationship with the external customer.
    The competence of listening is, in fact, even more valued when one thinks back to one’s own experiences as a client, that is when one asks oneself “who inspires me more confidence?”