<<< Back Posted: March 2017

Is Anyone Really Listening?

In several workshops during the last year, I revealed the profound “Three Layers of Deep Listening Model’ (adapted from Chapter 3 in the book Co-Active Coaching, by Laura Whitworth) to eager participants.

Then I asked who could remember the last time that they had listened to someone at Level 2. Eyes got wide, people looked at the floor and ceiling, then at each other. Silence hung heavy.

No one could remember.

The first time this happened in the classroom, I was rendered speechless. Totally taken aback. I finally recovered and we realized that we had stumbled onto something important.  Because this event repeated itself again and again, it catalyzed a reflective journey that I am in the middle of.

Allow me to summarize Level 1 for context, and Level 2 for reference, using a self-crafted table:

Level 1

So when we actually are listening at all (another blog post in itself) most of us are operating at Level 1, most if not all of the time. We need to do this and to do it well, in order to function and get things done. But notice that it is pretty egoistic: “It’s all about me and what I want.”  Here are some examples of the kinds of thoughts that might be going through the listener’s mind at Level 1:


Level 2

This is a paradigm shift, and it is where coaching begins. When we listen at Level 2, the speaker will often check (almost in disbelief) to see if it is really happening. In the beginning you may find the speaker looking at you, then looking away, then sneaking a look at you again. They are checking to see if you are really listening.

And when you think about it, don’t you love it when someone truly listens to you in this way?

At Level 2, you are not thinking about the groceries you need to pick up on the way home, nor your upcoming review with your boss, your overflowing Inbox, etc. These and all other thoughts about you and your life are…’POOF’ … gone!

Here are some examples of the kinds of thoughts that you might have when operating at this level:

What to do about this

We’ve all operated at Level 2, but my questions for everyone who has read this far are:

This opens up the opportunity for much more discussion! Join the #JJCCoachingCube on Facebook

I would love to hear from you, and here are some questions for discussion: