Listen… just for 2 minutes

[ 8 ] Comments


One of the very first exercises I remember doing at the start of my coaching training was to sit with a partner and listen to them describing something about themselves and their aspirations for 2 minutes without any form of interruption, verbal or non verbal. Sounds pretty easy right? Not long is it? I thought so too as we began… But it was hard … Hard to completely devote my concentration and listening to them… fully, with no thoughts about what to say next, what to ask, no judgments spoken or unspoken, no “uh-huhs” or “right”s or “ok”s, just complete focus and interest on them and what they were saying. I learnt that there is “listening” and then there is “deep listening” – two quite different things.

And how did my partner feel at the end of the 2 minutes? Brilliant! Valued. Appreciative that someone had given her “full on” attention. Motivated. Happy in herself.

It was such a simple and yet powerful exercise and it began to teach me how true and selfless listening is a skill, an art and most of all, a wonderfully empowering gift for the person being listened to.

We all listen in different ways and with differing levels of attention (often depending on where we’re at at the time). Why not try the 2 minute exercise with someone this week? Let them know up front and don’t be afraid to time it : remember, no less than 2 minutes and no speaking from your part.

I hope you’re pleasantly surprised with the results.

8 Responses to Listen… just for 2 minutes

  1. I remember doing a similar exercise, Frank – and yes, it was difficult, because I wasn’t used to simply listening without asking questions and offering suggestions (it was part of my job to do so!). I found it quite a surreal feeling to be listened to like that for the first time, too. Surreal – and also incredible!

    • frank says:

      Thanks for your thoughts Julia.. Yes it’s hard when we’re not used to it – and also all the more impactful as you say!

  2. Barry says:

    Very true, we should all do it more.

    • frank says:

      Thanks Barry. You’re right – One of the reasons I wrote the post was to remind myself to listen well more often (not just when I’m coaching !)

  3. Gina Musa says:

    You’re right Frank, it is a gift and it is hard. For myself, I don’t find it too difficult to concentrate when I’m listening, but I do find it particularly difficult to not make some kind of noise to signal the fact!

  4. Julia says:

    What a great exercise. I’m with Gina in that I don’t find it hard to listen for long-ish periods of time, but I also find myself making some kind of noise to signal the fact.

    • frank says:

      Glad you like the idea Julia.. I think it’s fine (and right!) to ensure the other person knows you’re listening and as you say, we often do that by verbal signals (even small ones). What I found interesting with the exercise was that you can still give the talker confidence you’re listening and there for them through things like eye contact (not intense of course… that would be scary!), facial expressions etc..

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