Listening for possibility

In my last few blog posts, I said that the phenomenon of listening consists of only two components:

1. Who do you have your attention on?

2. What’s your internal conversation?

I further said that if you want to be a really effective listener, just give the other person your undivided attention. Period. Have your internal conversation be something like: how are we both going to win here and work together.

Still another way to manage your internal conversation is to listen for possibility.

I’m sure there are many times that you find yourself in meetings where the attendees have a particular problem or challenge to deal with and it’s necessary to brain storm to find a solution.

Because of what typically happens in such meetings, people mostly hate meetings. What happens: as soon as someone presents an idea, everyone else listens to see whether or not they agree with what was presented. Since it’s pretty unlikely that they do, someone invariably makes the idea presented wrong or unworkable and presents their contrary view.

Once this is done, everyone jumps on the bandwagon and the meeting turns into a series of conflicting points of view, with everyone arguing why their solution is the right or best one.

The alternative presented here totally stops this from happening and typically results in an outcome that no one could have predicted. The alternative is to have everyone in the meeting put there attention on whoever presents the first idea and manage their internal conversation to be: “what would that make possible?”

When people do this, they just naturally start seeing possibilities that didn’t previously occur to them. So it’s not unusual for someone to then offer another idea that would build on the first, leading to someone else offering still another idea that builds on the first two, and so it goes.

This way of listening unleashes people’s brilliance and creativity, produces extraordinary outcomes, and leaves people excited and enthusiastic about participating in meetings.

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