Be Present

The ART of listening, as we define it, is the ability to bring one’s full attention to the speaker, and be present without interruptions or distractions. You engage in what is being shared and not being shared, identified through all your senses. It involves:

  1. Thinking: Actively processing and reflecting on the speaker’s words and their implications. In the Buddhist tradition, the sixth sense is aligned with thinking vs ESP.
  2. Seeing: Observing the speaker’s body language for additional insights and cues.
  3. Hearing: Paying attention to the words spoken, vocal inflections, word choice, and emotional tone.
  4. Smell:  When we experience life and others, we may be aware of scent associations that we often give little attention to, such as when I think of my grandparents with whom I associate with the smell of the farm or the musty basement beneath the farmhouse.
  5. Taste: Being attuned to any olfactory cues that may reveal additional layers of meaning. An example of this is when I think of my mother, I’m often reminded of a scent she wore or the lemon icebox pie she used to make for me on special occasions.
  6. Feeling: Sensing the speaker’s emotions and intentions through their expressions and the sensations they evoke in oneself.

Though all our senses play a role in deep listening, what we perceive visually and physically outweighs auditory input by more than 50%. Taking this into account, we draw on our ART model to remind us to Approach our listening with a sense of curiosity and openness. We Resolve whatever issue is at hand by giving the speaker our full attention with the intention of reaching a conclusion, determination, or settlement. The accomplishment or desired impact that follows is the release of Tension that results from an effective and accurately received message.   

As you will note, listening is so much more than just hearing someone’s words. It is also listening through our senses to what the speaker is conveying (intention). We listen in this way to the messages our mind, body, and spirit convey in service to our protection, growth, and development. Think of it as listening to your gut. Examples of this are what is learned through meditation and somatic work.  

Listening itself comes in many forms depending on your environment. Here are some common types of listening and when you might use them.

  1. Informational Listening focuses on understanding the message being conveyed. It’s used when you want to remember what is being said. You’ll use this type of listening in work training, self-paced learning, or when listening to a coach or mentor.
  2. Discriminative Listening involves distinguishing different sounds, voices, pitch, or quality. It’s the most basic form of listening and helps us understand the basic auditory information in communication. Think of this as reading between the lines, such as when someone says “Yes” and they clearly mean “No.”
  3. Selective or Biased Listening means that you hear what you want to hear. This can lead to misunderstandings as you fail to fully process the message of the speaker.
  4. Sympathetic Listening is where you focus on understanding the speaker’s feelings, emotions, and perspectives. It involves having and demonstrating compassion, empathy, and sensitivity towards the speaker’s experiences and concerns.
  5. Comprehensive Listening focuses on understanding the message being conveyed. It involves grasping the main ideas, details, and overall context of what is being communicated.
  6. Therapeutic Listening focuses on providing support and understanding to the speaker. It involves creating a safe space for the speaker to express their thoughts, feelings, and struggles without blame or judgment. 
  7. Critical Listening involves analyzing and evaluating the message being presented. It requires assessing the validity of the information, considering the speaker’s credibility, and examining the arguments for evidence provided.

All of these types of listening can have the ART model applied to them.

Learn how to Build Relationships through the ART of Listening.