Are You Ready to Listen to Liberate?

What are your thoughts and feelings about entering a new hybrid way of working? What do your team members think and feel?

For some this will be liberating, for others, it will be challenging.  What is common for both is that new ways of working will require us to adapt, to make changes, and to strengthen our communication skills. We will all be required to listen more to each other and ourselves; listen to the thoughts and feelings that emerge from embarking on change. Whether we are invited to make changes or recognise we need to make a change ourselves, our capacity to listen is a foundational skill in navigating this process successfully. For when we listen, we allow others to express who they are, their concerns, the challenges, their needs, and the opportunities the change will manifest.

We spend more time listening

According to the research of Adler, Rosenfield, and Proctor – Interplay: the process of interpersonal communication, 2001,  adults spend on average 70% of their time engaging in communication, of this 45 % spent listening compared to 30% speaking and 16% reading.

Those who have an influence on others at work will spend more time listening, up to 80% in gathering information to make decisions, engage team members, support change initiatives, and inspire new ideas.  At yet leaders declare they rarely invest in developing their listening skills.

The cost of not listening

Poor listening skills leads to miscommunication, misunderstanding, low team engagement, reduced productivity, and ultimately higher turnover.  Large businesses lose an estimated $50 million in total yearly loss due to miscommunication according to the Workplace Productivity and Communications Technology Report, Webtutorials (2017).

The impact of listening

Developing our listening skills not only saves time and money, but it also enables others to feel valued as a human being. And when we feel valued, we add value to ourselves, others, and our families and organisations. As we plan for new hybrid working arrangements, we will want to mitigate misunderstandings and create opportunities for others to feel valued.  Listening to others enables a more successful change in behaviour, habits, and ways of working as we gain a greater understanding of who they are, what they need, and how they will more easily navigate the change.

5 levels of listening

Recently I have reviewed 5 levels of listening. We will be listening at these levels in different situations throughout our day.

The ultimate level of listening is generative listening. Listening to liberate the mind of others and ourselves so that they can think well, express themselves free from retribution and judgement, feel more confident, creative, and courageous. I imagine this is how you’d like others in your span of care to feel.

Our listening journey begins with listening to ourselves. Take a pause and reflect. Building in moments of reflection to connect more deeply with our thoughts and feelings enables us to learn and grow as a human being, as a leader, a parent, a mentor, and coach.

There are times when we simply pretend to listen. We know when we are pretending, and others will know when we are not listening! Our mind wanders, our eyes glaze and we’ll feign our interest, rather than actively giving our attention to another. When our mind wanders and we are simply pretending, we need to switch gear, be intentional and get interested in the other, to listen.

Factual listening enables us to gather the facts, the context, to learn new information, and gain knowledge to support decision making and ideation.

Empathetic listening takes it to a deeper level where we notice and listen to the facts AND the feelings expressed by another and in ourselves.  Listening with empathy allows others to feel acknowledged and understood. It is listening free from judgement, being witness to what others are feeling and the impact that has on them.

Our journey culminates in generative listening where, building upon the previous levels, we listen to generate the best thinking and self-expression in another. When we listen generatively, others feel valued and generates new ideas, breakthrough patterns of behaviour, and possibilities than previously imagined. It enables others to tap into their resourcefulness, becoming more confident, creative, and courageous.

People are dying to be heard

As my friend, Colin Smith suggests people ‘are dying to be heard’. They want us to listen to their thoughts and feelings as they navigate different relationships, systems, processes, and ways of working with one another in the new hybrid working arrangements. Individuals and teams want to perform well, make the best use of their skills, talents, and experiences. Listening to liberate their own minds is a way to enhance performance and grow as a human being. As we embark on the changes of hybrid working, what others will need most, is to be listened to.

If you would like to discover the impact and benefit of generative listening to liberate the mind of others and yourself, join me on my 30-Day Listening to Liberate Challenge together with a global community of individuals wanting to deepen their listening skills, starting 2nd August. With just 5 minutes a day, you’ll discover the skills and practice of listening generatively, enhancing your communication in readiness for the hybrid working arrangements and have greater impact on the lives of others. 

Thank you for listening!


Jane Adshead-Grant
Jane Adshead-Grant
Jane is a listening and people leadership specialist. She helps individuals develop their leadership gifts and skills with compassion, courage, and commitment to foster environments where everybody matters. Her gifts are to encourage and to listen. Listen free from interruption and judgement, encouraging others to step into who they were meant to be. She has more than 30 years’ experience in people-focused roles in the corporate environment. Jane is an MCC coach with the ICF, Accredited Coach, Facilitator, and Teacher of the Thinking Environmentâ and Ambassador of Truly Human Leadership. Additionally, she is the author of Are you Listening or Just Waiting to Speak?

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  1. Yes, it is very interesting.
    A few days ago, the always available Dennis shared a pious article on decision-making processes and, to be honest, it was my intention to enrich the article by hinting at the fact that the most difficult thing, when making decisions, is first of all learning not to stick to your point of view and do that reality check that is very difficult for everyone. Often we become attached to an idea so much that we do not consider its analysis from different perspectives and we end up rejecting important inputs that could help us improve it or give it up altogether. At the base of a good reality check is the exercise of listening on several levels and that of generative listening I think is fundamental, because it is linked to our ability to listen to ourselves while we listen to others, that is, we are able to monitor at the same time our energy level and we feel that we are connecting to something that was not there before.
    When they listen to the problems of their athletes or their pupils, the real leaders, coaches and teachers (the good ones eh) can already see in them a potential that wants to emerge. This means that they listen without thinking about the past, but focus on the future that is about to unfold.