Beginning Technique - No Experience Required
A creative listener asks carefully designed questions to help people
think about things in new ways. The results can be fantastic, resulting
in inventive solutions to problems, overcoming frustration, worry and
mild depression, or new ways to relate with friends, family, and
Creative Listening is essentially a tiny subset of NLP. It is free
and unrestricted, takes about 5 minutes to learn, and is super-effective
in so many ways:
* Help others understand things they've been thinking about in
entirely new ways, often resulting in problems solved, attitudes
adjusted, and progress made.
* Understand things you've been thinking about in entirely new ways.
* Quickly establish rapport with clients, customers, teenagers,
* Express criticism without offending, and elicit changed behaviors.
* Help people feel better about themselves and their lives.
In just a few minutes, you can learn enough to communicate more
effectively with family, friends, and yourself. In just a few hours you
can become professional, offering your services as a Creative Listener
You can use Creative Listening with a neighbor in the supermarket, or
in a professional session, or anything in-between. You can use it with
friends, family, clients, customers, associates - anyone, young or old.
Easy Steps to Creative Listening
Respectfully challenge ambiguities.
You'd be amazed at what people leave out of conversations.
Interestingly, many of these details have never really been analyzed by
the speaker. So, when you ask for more detail, very interesting new
thoughts can develop.
Everyone says. - Who specifically says that?
It can't be done. - What exactly prevents it from being done?
She hates me. - In what specific way does she let you know that
she hates you?
The relationship is in trouble. - How's it in trouble?
The situation is hopeless. - What is the situation, exactly? Or,
What tells you it's hopeless?
You might think this rude or offensive, but in most cases, when you
respectfully ask for more detail, the speaker is honored - knowing that
someone truly wants to know what they are thinking.
Ask questions that cause people to think about things in new ways.
Here is a typical set:
What would you like? This is a good place to start in many cases.
Variations can include: What's on your mind? What do you want?
What would having that do for you? This will ofter cause the
speaker to zoom out and see the bigger picture - often for the first
And what would having that do for you? Sometimes the degree
of zoom isn't enough - even when you think it is. You'd be surprised
what comes up when you zoom out twice.
How will you know when you have it? A surprising way to zoom in
for a closer look.
When you have it, what will you lose that you value? This will
typically bring the speaker to a dead stop for a minute, and can bring
up all sorts of useful objections. Knowing those objections will reveal
reasons for procrastination, hesitation, and defocusing activities.
What's the opposite of that? Another viewpoint that many people
have never considered in ideas they may have considered often. This can
get them out of a loop.
How will your friends, family, significant other react when you have
it? Another way to find hidden blocks.
If your _____ was a bathtub to fill with something, what would you
put in it? This is just an example, you could use all sorts of
similar questions here - ones that the listener doesn't expect, which
will jump them off their typical track - often with spectacular results.
Now that we've discussed it a bit, what would you like? Don't be
surprised if the answer is quite different from the original answer the
first time you asked this question.
What good things come to someone who _____? Generally, this is a
twist that opens new channels of consideration. The blank is often
filled with what the person is doing now. For instance: What good things
come to someone who does not start a camera store?
What would someone have to believe _____? Much like the question
above, you can twist it backward, and be ready to hear some very
What's the first step to getting _____? This is a good way to zoom
in, and see the first and most immediate objection.
What should I write here in my notes? This often elicits a more
In asking all these questions, leave plenty of time for answers.
Although at first awkward, you can wait even 15 seconds without saying
another word. The person with whom you are speaking will feel a need to
fill the silence, and may come up with something very interesting
indeed, if given sufficient silent time.
You can ask these, and other questions, in any sequence that seems
right. Indulge your curiosity. Don't be afraid of questions that seem
too personal or prying. If you ask these well, and follow the steps
below, not only will you get the answers you seek, but the person with
whom you are speaking will feel quite honored that you care enough to
ask such deep things.
If the conversation veers off-track, you can steer it back by saying
something like, "Thank you," or "Yes, I can see how that
would happen," but then ask for specific information that's back on
track. For instance, if the person starts talking about exactly how he
built a bookshelf, you might say, "I see you really enjoyed that
project. So, what would you..."
You can guide the conversation to what's called a 'well-formed
outcome.' Ultimately, you'd like the person you're conversing with to
state a desire in the positive, have it be something s/he can initiate
and maintain, and have a manageable feasibility.
It has been said that 93% of communication is non-verbal. You have
experienced that. For instance, someone may say that their neighbor is
'alright,' but as they say it, you see their shoulders rise up, their
facial features tighten, their respiration becomes shallow. In this
situation, do you learn more from their words ('alright'), or from their
physiology? You can do a lot with this 93%.
You can build tremendous unconscious rapport by mirroring posture,
gestures and audio tonality. If you wait approximately 7 seconds and
then position yourself the same way, if you moderate your speed, volume
and pitch about the same way, if you play back gestures, your listener
will become more trusting, more willing to share deeper thoughts and
emotions, and more willing to listen carefully to what you have to say.
Don't take my word for it - try it out. Surprisingly, you won't be
'busted' unless you do it very blatantly. In most cases, you can mirror
people very completely, and they never suspect a thing.
Backtracking is very valuable. This means that you repeat certain key
phrases back to the person you are conversing with, generally several
seconds or even minutes later. For instance, if your user states that
something good is 'tubular,' and if you use that same word in a similar
context, this will put them at ease - they'll feel honored - and heard.
Backtracking is actually the opposite of a technique known as '
listening' in which you rephrase what you've heard to prove that you
understood it. Backtracking has the rather surprising effect of making
the subject believe even more that you understood what was said.
Noticing physiology can let you know when it is time to shift gears.
You can read when you've lost someone's attention, when you have asked
for too much detail, gone into an area that brings sadness, and so on.
With practice, you can read where to focus more attention. For instance,
as the conversation shifts to parents, you may see physiology changes
that indicate something more needs to be discussed about a mother or
Remember what you are trying to accomplish. Quite often, your story,
your attitude, your concerns creep into the conversation. In many cases,
that's counter-productive. The moment you start coaching or telling your
story, your effectiveness as a creative listener weakens.
Depending on what you wish to accomplish, you may not have to tell
the person with whom you're talking anything specific. Simply giving
them the opportunity to talk can help them feel better, see things in
new ways, and so on, especially if you use steps 1 and 2. Source-1
Sometimes, you may feel a need to actively create change.
So how do you do that without breaking the rapport, while still being
a creative listener? Speak metaphorically. (Details