listening tips

Ways of Listening

Listening is one of those things that is consistently an area for growth in my life, both personally and professionally. I’ve written about listening tips before, and I feel fortunate that in my job it’s necessary to practice and hone my listening skills.  

For me, listening is a combination of presence, patience, staying open, authenticity, and trust. It is about being fully engaged and caring about another person, regardless of whether they’re part of your inner circle, or a presenter at a conference you’ve never met. By listening deeply, you are sharing with that person something incredibly valuable: your attention and therefore your energy.

As a graphic recorder, different situations call for different ways of listening. I have known this on a mostly subconscious level throughout my practice, however last month at the Visual Practice Workshop hosted by Kelvy Bird she shared some framing around listening that has shifted the way I approach the work for my clients.

“Levels of Scribing” from  Generative Scribing  by Kelvy Bird

“Levels of Scribing” from Generative Scribing by Kelvy Bird

Sometimes during rapid-fire presentations, what’s most important is to capture images that reflect the content to help people remember and engage with the ideas.

Other times it’s more important to be listening for context and how ideas relate to one another to illuminate systems or relationships.

And other times, often over longer periods of time, it’s most important to be with the group as they surface and reveal the “highest potentiality for the systems we serve”. This might be ideas that are fuzzy or still developing, or to be listening for what is not being said. This requires presence, a whole-body experience tuning into not only the mind but also intuition and empathy.

Something I love most about graphic recording is that I’m always learning, continually improving. It’s never boring, that’s for sure. And it’s also never perfect. But that’s the wonderful bit about being human, the imperfection keeps things interesting.

So here’s to practicing and deepening our listening together.

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

What kind of listening and visual capture can best serve your group?

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

medellin parrot.jpg

Medellín, Colombia: Next week I’ll be in Colombia for the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). I’ll be working with the Fellows to help them design the future of the program and how to work better intergenerationally as researchers. Looking forward to sharing updates!

The Wildfire Research (WiRē)Team Videos Go Live Tomorrow! This video series has been in the works since our kickoff workshop in November, 2016. A collaborative team of social scientists, fire researchers, practitioners and multiple agencies, find out how this team helps communities become more fire adapted (or what “fire adapted” even means!). Here’s the first one for you all as Early Bird subscribers!

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? 

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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!