Listening seems really important. But to go beyond that and be actively listening there need to be a spark of curiosity.

To go beyond hearing what someone has to say and be engaged in discovering them and their ideas–that reveals several things about both parties. First, that you really care and honor them as a person, which frees people to share. Second, that you have connection to what they have to say–that you see value in knowing what they are offering. Third, that you see potential of learning from them and opportunity to co-create together. Forth, that you are interested in exploring with them.

Many dialogs really are monologues cross-spoken. If someone holds in their mind what they want to say, what they want to get across, what they want to argue, what they want to push as an agenda…then the conversation isn’t really a conversation. Be co-creative in your conversations and display a good dose of curiosity.

When I went through training as a coach, one of the first exercises we did was to give advice to our partner. The second exercise was to listen. I noticed two very important things. One, that the person I listened to seemed very capable of creating their own solutions. Second, the person I listened to was energized more by being listened to then by the advice. Since then, over and over, I have witnessed the power of being curious and listening actively and deeply as it activates the creative resourcefulness in people. More than that, they seem more likely to follow through on their own ideas and solutions than on any advice I would give.

It does take some stepping back…it requires the listener to give up the idea that they have the right answer. Be curious, the person you are talking to deserves the opportunity to create solutions for themselves. What is that? Listen for it. Be curious. And you might learn something wonderful and unexpected. I have.

But don’t just take my word for it, check out these benefits of active listening from an expert:

    • Sometimes a person just needs to be heard and acknowledged before the person is willing to consider an alternative or soften his /her position.
      It is often easier for a person to listen to and consider the other’s position when that person knows the other is listening and considering his/her position.
      It helps people to spot the flaws in their reasoning when they hear it played back without criticism.
      It also helps identify areas of agreement so the areas of disagreement are put in perspective and are diminished rather than magnified.
      Reflecting back what we hear each other say helps give each a chance to become aware of the different levels that are going on below the surface. This helps to bring things into the open where they can be more readily resolved.
      If we accurately understand the other person’s view, we can be more effective in helping the person see the flaws in his/her position.
      If we listen so we can accurately understand the other’s view, we can also be more effective in discovering the flaws in our own position.