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Appreciative Listening Examples: Collaborating in Times of Uncertainty

We are currently facing a massive wave of uncertainty that has affected every aspect of our lives. Over the past few weeks, there have been many rapid changes that have drastically affected both our personal and professional lives. Many organizations are operating remotely for the first time, challenging leaders to find new ways to foster effective communication and collaboration in their teams.

Successful collaboration requires a connection among team members. It requires communication that leaves people feeling energized, motivated, and appreciated. Without physical proximity and daily face-to-face interactions, feeling connected and valued at work is harder than ever. In these uncertain, rapidly changing times, teams, leaders and organizations who practice this skill will continue to foster truly collaborative environments where people stay connected and engaged.

What is it?

Appreciative Listening is a type of listening where the speaker becomes the most important person in the room. All too often, when someone is speaking, the person or people listening are focused on themselves. Instead of focusing on what the speaker is saying, they begin mentally formulating their opinion and waiting for their turn to reply. With Appreciative Listening, the focus is entirely on the speaker. Instead of waiting for their turn to reply, the listener(s) put aside their perspective, opinions, and ideas for the purpose of fully understanding and appreciating what the speaker is saying. With this type of listening amongst team members, collaboration, connection, and motivation flourish.

How to Use in Times of Uncertainty

In times of ambiguity and uncertainty, people may feel distracted, unsure and anxious. Working collaboratively may become difficult as people push their own ideas and perspectives to create more control and safety for themselves. When things are uncertain, it can be hard to be open to other people’s ideas, especially when they have an impact on everyone involved. Practicing Appreciative Listening can encourage people to come together and find collaborative solutions rather than disagreeing or discounting others.

Practicing the following two principles of AP can help individuals, teams, and organizations thrive in ambiguity.

Being Fully Present

Appreciative Listening requires the listener to be fully present. In order to prioritize the speaker, ensure that your full focus can be on them. If you are meeting virtually, close all browser windows and set boundaries with roommates and family members to limit interruptions. Use nonverbal cues to show that you are fully invested in what the person is saying: make eye contact, nod your head, and position your body towards them. As a listener, being fully present also requires that you put aside your assumptions or judgments about what the person is saying. Instead of being tuned in to your own inner dialogue, listen to the other person with an open mind. When you are fully present for what the other person is saying, they will feel connected, valued, and more willing to share their ideas.

Practice Saying “Yes…And!”

In improvisational theatre, saying “yes…and!” is arguably the most important rule to follow when building collaborative scenes. All too often, people share their perspectives and ideas at work only to be told why they are incorrect or why their ideas won’t work. This type of response is dismissive and discourages people from sharing their ideas in the future. In times of uncertainty, innovative ideas are necessary. When collaborating with others, practice saying “Yes!” to their ideas and be open to trying them. Whenever possible, build directly on the ideas of others rather than immediately pitching a brand-new idea. People are more motivated and invested when they all have a say, leading to truly collaborative efforts.

Learn Appreciative Listening with Ziksana!

In times of ambiguity, the skill of Appreciative Listening becomes even more essential to the success of individuals, leaders, teams, and organizations. Contact us and check out our Appreciative Listening Virtual Workshop to discover how we can help you and your team with Appreciative Listening.


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