This freewrite comes from a member of a circle in which I participated in Point Reyes. He was my writing partner that day, and we read to each other what we had written about listening. Tom is a lawyer, who specializes in nonprofits.
Author: Tom Silk
When I think of the word “listening,” the picture it evokes is my law office, where I am conferring with a client. I am listening.
It is a particular type of listening, a goal-oriented process I call focused listening. Typically, the client has come to me for a particular service I perform, for example forming a nonprofit corporation. I know what information I am looking for in the discussion with my client, the pieces required to properly advise my client. In this case, it includes the purpose of the client, the mission of the organization, the principal actors, the funding.
When my listening goal is not to focus on gathering pieces of information, but to hear what the speaker is saying and perhaps not saying – when I am listening exclusively for the meaning of what the speaker is wanting to communicate – I am engaged in “deep listening.”
Deep listening can be exhausting, and I find it is rarely possible to maintain the high level of focus and intensity that fully qualifies as deep listening for more than a few minutes at a time. But the benefits can be profound.