The Skill of Listening

A video on the skills and barriers to listening when providing feedback

Hear from Jenny Ray, LeadFWD, on tips to effectively listen and the common barriers that occur when trying to listen.


We first need to think about and pay attention to what are effective listening skills. Because by honing our listening skill skills, we can build stronger relationships, avoid misunderstandings, and gain a better understanding of other’s perspectives. But there are several barriers to recognize and learn to set aside from our conversations. And the first is autobiographical listening. So this happens when we relate to the speaker’s story and we start having this conversation in our head because we want to share the similar experience that we’ve had.

And I, and I think that we think, I know, I know that I have thought in the past that in doing so, by sharing, by listening to their story, oh, this connects with something i, I can share. Yeah. Cuz when I was a teacher, something very similar happened. And we think that we’re building connections with others when we do this, but really what’s happened and what we’ve done is to shift the spotlight from them to us. So we wanna keep that conversation around the teacher’s needs and not our own. So that’s one to set aside, is the Autobi autobiographical listening Now solution, finding listening on the other hand, involves immediately offering advice or solutions to the teacher’s problems. And many times it’s without fully understanding the situation. So this can be problematic because it makes the teacher feel unheard, invalidated. And it also sends the message that I have, I have all of the answers, you don’t. So come to me when you want answers to your really hard problems. Um, so this type of listening, then, if you give into it, creates dependency. And that’s exactly what we’re not going for. We want our teachers become self-directed. Um, and by solution, listening and providing those solutions, then it breaks down self-efficacy.

And then we have inquisitive or scrutinizing listening. And that’s when you ask questions because you think you need to know all the details, but the teacher already knows the details, right? So again, it shifts the attention away from the teacher to your own needs, which may in fact derail the conversation away from the real issue that the teacher is trying to solve. If we’re asking questions about, well, which students caused this to happen, which period did this happen in, you know, it can cause you to go to, to steer the direction, the conversation in the direction down a rabbit hole and not really wear the teacher wanted to take it. You know, overuse of this inquisitive or scrutinizing listening can also come across as interrogating or confrontational. So it is important to set aside this barrier to listening as much as you can.

Now, mind reading and internal rehearsing are also are often byproducts of one or more, more of these barriers as well. You know, again, it’s important to just be aware of these, be aware of what’s happening in your head. And that gets a way of, gets in the way of just, just listening. And just a self reminder to me, and this is what I find myself when I catch myself, because I, I catch myself often when I’m coaching leaders, when I’m coaching teachers, um, all three of these get in the way. And so I, I tell myself, just put it down and listen because it’s, it’s just not about me.