Everywhere I turn, I hear messages such as: “be a good listener,” “become a better listener,” or “good leaders know how to listen.” Almost every list of essential leadership qualities includes listening. And with this mandate, we decide to listen more. Nonetheless, the common misperception persists: I’ll become a better listener by listening more. Listening more doesn’t make us better listeners. It makes us quiet. It protects us from revealing anything about ourselves. It makes us resentful, and exhausted. Worse yet, by listening more we never really learn how to become better listeners! Just because we do it more doesn’t mean we are better at it. Participants in my workshops continue to be surprised that the key to becoming a better listener is actually being listened to more.
You don’t become a better listener just by listening; you become a better listener by getting listened to.
Constructivist Listening* is the only listening method that I am aware of where everyone benefits from being listened to. Dr. Erica Sherover-Marcuse described [constructivist] listening as “the most powerful political tool you’ll ever learn.” Why is constructivist listening so transformative as a practice? What is unique about its method and impacts?
Simply defined: constructivist listening is a timed listening activity where the speaker and listener have the same amount of time in each role: speaker and listener. Constructivist Listening gives space for healing, deepens trust, and encourages the speaker to examine their own perceptions, make meaning for themselves, and trust their own mind to learn from their thoughts and experiences.
We utilize Constructivist Listening as a core practice in our programs to engage in personal healing, increase confidence in our own abilities, and begin to make radical, revolutionary changes in how we relate to the people around us. Join us!
*Julian Weissglass, The Educational Forum, Vol. 54, No. 4, Summer 1990