listening filters

How to Improve the way You Listen: Tips from a Professional Listener

In the age of The Device, it’s easy to be distracted by the chirp of a notification.  Which makes a conversation filled with intentional, focused and active listening a real treat to be a part of.

Graphic recorders and facilitators are essentially professional listeners – we are with the group to hear what individuals saying, listen for larger themes and reflect ideas back to the group in a clear way. We need to listen to body language and tone, and to seek to clarify and surface underlying ideas and patterns so the group we are supporting can move forward effectively and maintain their energy and momentum long-term for positive change.

This. Is. Hard. And I don’t just mean the drawing.

The way we approach listening in conversations can monumentally affect the outcomes, and yet this is something we often do subconsciously. Every person, is, of course, biased in some way. Many times, this is seen as a flaw or weakness, yet refreshingly, Anthony Weeks takes a different perspective: “Our subjectivity is our way of creating value.”

As graphic recorders, paying attention to the way we approach our work through listening, observing and intentionally focusing on applying listening filters based on the needs of the client (Do they need us to visualize facts? Emotions? Patterns? Systems?) can profoundly influence how and what we capture, and therefore the group’s outcomes.

As human beings, being conscious of the way we listen can profoundly influence our relationships with one another, and therefore our sense of connectedness and satisfaction in our work and personal lives.

Some ideas to deepen your listening practice:

- Give people time and space to process and continue by waiting three seconds before jumping in after someone has paused.
- Remember, listening is not the same as waiting to speak. Be present and ask questions to encourage clarification or exploration.
- Make space for vulnerability by not judging immediately. This doesn’t mean you must always agree. Let the person know you appreciate/love them but you may disagree. A nice way to think about this is to be hard on the idea, not the person.
- Be sure you are in a state of mind to listen well, because it takes energy to be present, withhold judgement, and be able to draw connections between ideas.

Click on the image below to see the larger version.


Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Deep listening, synthesis and illustration for multiple hours at a time to support your group? 

If you liked this, please sign up for my emails and if you'd like, I'd be so grateful if you shared it with your friends.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

This week I'm working with the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Their communications specialists from around the country are getting together to build connections, develop storytelling skills and share tools. Here's a few tips from Michael Smart that will be included in a Summary Map of all four days!