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Appreciative Listening

How well do you listen?

If you’re like most modern-day workers, you’re probably so torn between emails, smart phones, task lists, and deadlines that your human-listening skills aren’t what they should be. Think about the last conversation you had with a coworker. How much of that conversation do you remember? 50%? 20%?

Now put yourself in the speaker’s shoes. If you’re sharing with your boss, and your boss only remembers 20% of what you shared, then why even bother sharing at all?

At Ziksana, we believe that successful leaders move beyond listening to hear and instead build the skill of listening to appreciate. We call this Appreciative Listening. The goal of Appreciative Listening is to make the speaker feel valued, and truly understood without judgment. By combining active listening with positive psychology, our Appreciative Listening framework makes it simple and even fun to listen to those who we agree AND may disagree with.

We know that team members who feel valued or appreciated have a higher motivation to contribute, hold a higher level of trust, and are more willing to share ideas. Motivation, trust, communication- these are key ingredients of a team that is able to innovate and effectively leverage creative problem solving. Appreciative Listening is one skill we believe every leader needs to learn, which is why we include it throughout our leadership programs.

In order to guide leaders through the listening process, we employ our signature PLAY model of Appreciative Listening:

P = Present. Are you present for the listener? Stop what you are doing, make eye contact, and check your body language. Give the speaker your undivided attention. At the same time, suspend judgement- don’t assume you know what the person is about to say.

L = Look & Learn. Maintain eye contact and open body language. Don’t interrupt the speaker b
A = Accept. Accept what the speaker is saying using affirmative language like, “Tell me more,” and, “That’s helpful information.” Say “yes and” to their ideas, build off of their information, and be sure to appreciate more than criticize.

Y = Yield. Yield is the speaker’s level of confidence in the interaction and is a measure of success for the ability to listen appreciatively. We divide Yield into three levels:

Level 1: The speaker feels ignored, unvalued, and is unlikely to share again.

Level 2: The speaker feels heard, and that some of their ideas are being accepted and incorporated.

Level 3: The speaker not only feels heard, but also feels valued.

By moving through the steps of P, L, and A in order to achieve a Level 3 of Yield, a leader can create an environment where team members feel encouraged and valued in their roles, ensuring new ideas and information sharing.

Appreciative Listening is a skill that takes time and practice to develop. Download a copy of our PLAY model for your office by visiting ziksanaconsulting.com to sign up for our newsletter. And, if your team could use a workshop to practice Appreciative Listening, we’d love to help. Drop us a line at info@ziksanaconsulting.com

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