Trampoline Listening

Trampoline Listening

When I’m doing research on leadership and communication I always check out the Harvard Business Review website ( ).  Fantastic resources that are delivered by book, online article, video and my personal favorite, podcast!  While doing research on the topic of listening, I picked up the HBR Press book Emotional Intelligence Mindful Listening (2019)This little book is a compilation of articles from authors who share great insight on the concept of listening.

Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman in their article “What Great Listeners Actually Do” share results from participants of a development program whose objective was to help managers become better coaches.  As they listed the behaviors of good listeners one finding resonated with me.  It is a great way to demonstrate (and measure) if we are truly listening to the other.  Too often we claim to be listening because we can repeat back what was said.  This type of listening is merely confirmation that the words spoken were the words heard.  What’s missing is understanding the meaning behind the words and more importantly how engaged we are with the other. 

I encourage you to try what Zenger and Folkman refer to as “trampoline listening.”

Good listeners are like trampolines: They are someone you can bounce ideas off of and, rather than absorbing your ideas and energy, they amplify, energize and clarify your thinking.  They make you feel better not by merely passively absorbing but by actively supporting.  This lets you gain energy and height, just like someone jumping on a trampoline.

To practice this type of listening start with someone that you may struggle listening to.  Are you impatient, bored, or do not have a strong connection?  Pause and take a moment to find the deeper reason to listen.  If nothing else, listening is a great way to demonstrate respect.  (And when someone feels respected, they are much more open to listening to you).

Once you have mentally prepared yourself to listen, jump in on the fun; show interest by asking questions, praising, or expressing empathy.  Connect through eye contact and face the person (just like bouncing on a trampoline pay attention to what’s happening in front of you, put away the cell phone and turn off the tv). 

I challenge you to change just one small aspect of your current listening style.  I know you will find that the outcome is worth your efforts. 

Enjoy the jump!

4 Responses

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