Sarah Goodfellow Management Training Consultant

Having co-facilitated at a sales conference in Bristol recently I was reflecting on a story one of my colleagues shared.

As most trainers do, we started chatting in the evening about the impact of working away from home so much and how this affects our relationships and time we have for family and friends.

One evening my colleague phoned home as usual and had a brief conversation with his two year old son whilst catching up with his emails.

Having chatted for a few minutes, the conversation went something like this:

Little boy: ‘Daddy you’re not listening to me’
Dad: ‘Yes I am I’m listening to every word’
Little boy: ‘But I can tell you’re not listening with your eyes’

Children are so astute it’s frightening as he instinctively knew he didn’t have his Dads full attention.

It got me thinking on two levels:

  • How come we lose this insight as we get older?
  • What stops us from taking the time to truly listen to others?

There are probably multiple reasons why this may be true for some us, whilst naturally there are some people who remain very intuitive and who are practiced listeners.

I do think however that the current world we live in does take over and dictate many aspects of our lives.

On the first point it is very easy as life goes by to become a product of our environment.

In new situations we may ask lots of questions and challenge how things are done. The longer we find ourselves in any situation however the easier it becomes to just accept our surroundings

It’s like the boiling frog story…

If a frog is put into a pan of hot water it will automatically jump out as it realises it’s a dangerous environment. However if you put the frog into a pan of cold water and slowly turn up the heat it will boil to death as it will not perceive the danger.

Life experience has a tendency to make us leave our intuitive instinct behind and we begin to see the world with blinkers on.

Using some creative thinking tools and techniques can help to view the world differently and provide you with well-practiced processes that encourage people to challenge the status quo and create a learning culture.

When it comes to the second point, the pressures of work and the lack of time in our busy lives can impact on how well we engage and listen to those around us.

Trying to do too many things at once impacts on how well we complete any of the tasks we undertake as my colleagues story demonstrates perfectly.

Sometimes we need to take a moment to challenge what is important in life, what our priorities should be and then plan the time in to ensure these priorities get the time they deserve. This is true both inside and outside of work.

When considering your ability to listen it is worth asking yourself: What type of listener are you?

  • Peripheral Listener – looking like you’re listening but concentrating on something else
  • Attentive – Listening but allowing distractions to take our attention (listening without eyes)
  • Projective – Really listening and concentrating on all that is being said

To truly be a projective listener can be tough, takes time and you have to practice.

In the next conversation you have make a point of really taking in everything that is being said, think about the way it is being delivered and see if you can hear the emotion behind the words.

You may need to ask a few questions to really get below the surface and hear the feelings, preferences, likes, dislikes, attitudes and beliefs that sit behind what the person is truly saying.

It is also worth considering: Do you listen to respond or do you listen to understand?

Listening to respond is about assessing whether the information being shared has an impact on us, listening to understand brings a far deeper level of appreciation.

So whether you are looking to improve your general communication skills, understand how creative problem solving can help or guidance in how to plan your time more effectively then Four Steps Training can help.

Contact us at or telephone us on 023 9248 1549 and I promise we will ‘listen to understand’ your needs and help you find the right solution to make life easier.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.