Essential Listening for People and Groups

  • Listening is perhaps THE skill that is both fundamental to design, collaboration, and management, and at the same time most under-discussed, under-practiced, and underdeveloped among our teams. Good listening improves relationships and collaboration, transforms conflict from process-blocker to creative spark, and deepens the creative process at all stages.

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    Who this is for

    There are no prerequisites for this workshop, and it is appropriate for people at all levels of experience and responsibility. It has the most staying power when groups of coworkers take it together, and can also be greatly valuable for groups of people who would like to improve their collaboration across silos and differences.

    What you’ll learn

    The morning focuses on individual skills and practices: developing our ability to listen well in one-on-one and small group situations. The afternoon expands the scope to equip you with methods for whole-group listening, either to increase understanding and relatedness among the group members or to open the group to outside stories and voices.

    The day concludes with time to explore how you can continue these new practices after the workshop and carry them into the day-to-day life of your work and culture. To support that effort, we provide you with a “post-workshop kit” of short field assignments, reflection guides, and learning resources.

    Individual skills and practices

    • A fresh lens on conversation and listening, to help you notice key conversational moments that can be improved by a dose of open listening
    • How to practice “active” listening, in a way that can be easily taught to others
    • How to use conversational “probes” – techniques that signal your intent to listen with curiosity and openness, encouraging others to speak more openly
    • How to improve on the classic “ping-pong,” Q&A interview structure
    • How to cultivate your skill in non-judgmental listening

    Group methods

    • Principles of group listening
    • Building blocks for hosting groups: how to include all voices, how to distribute control
    • Specific methods (with sample facilitation plans) for group listening activities such as Conversation Café, Collective Story Harvest, and Open Space Technology
    • How to use a “consensus gradient” – a way to improve real participation in collective decision-making