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Levels of Listening: What we’ve learned


Levels of Listening: What we’ve learned

  • 12/3/2018
  • Employment, Skills Building, Technology, Connections, Community, Culture & Society, Multigenerational workforce, Ageism, Impact

By Michelle N. Moore

Theory U listening exercise was introduced by Michelle N. Moore at Inclusion by Design conference organized by The goal of the exercise was to enable participants to experience habitual vs. generative listening and to engage in dialogue which is open to authentic connection, a mindset shift or new insights. About 100 participants worked in pairs and engaged in all four levels of listening, shown in the Presencing Institute slide below:

  1. Downloading (closed mind),

Learn more at the Presencing Institute.

46 participants shared details about their personal experience during the exercise. The words most repeated are depicted below.


Participants journaled learnings and insights during silent reflective time. Some shared personal learnings gained from the listening exercise itself and new insights gained from the conference during the listening exercise. These learnings and insights are noted below.

  1. Personal learnings from the exercise itself

“As an older person…there is the possibility of expectation of ageism. I was ageist to others when I was young. Maybe it’s just now my turn. Maybe it’s payback. I deserve it, and there is nothing I can do about it. I am a victim of societal norms. Maybe I can shift that for myself and the world by being aware of this and working to connect and relate with listening and speaking from the mindset of open will to break the spell of this bias.”

“I recognize that I come to a conversation with my own prejudices. First and foremost, I come to a conversation as an individual human being.”

“I felt more connected to the real issues when I really spent that extra 30 seconds to listen.”

“Listening this way let me hear my partner’s voice more clearly. Pauses gave me more time to clearly express myself but also to hear feedback and questions differently. Really listening to hear with an open will was possible. Open will let me hear the undercurrent of the topic chosen and this lead to an honest conversation about our current circumstances.”

“We are good in human resources at monitoring quotas for diversity statistics. We haven’t changed the mindset behind it. In my self-reflection there was a realization that the ageism issue will hit me too in ten years or so. This listening exercise is a positive reinforcement tool for changing mindsets.”

“I realized I don’t pause when talking. I don’t slow down. It’s not that I talk fast, but the pause invites the other person to connect, or is a good way to emphasize a point.”

2. New insights gained from the conference during the listening exercise are noted below.

“As we have gotten older, we are definitely listening more. We are less compelled to talk, to drive the conversation. This makes for better coaches, mentors. We need to educate corporations on the value of investing in older workers.”

“We can listen for the future shift….from measurable outcome to transformative shift in context. In other words, there can be less focus on achieving the outcome and more focus on changing the context in which transformation occurs.”

“Hiring bias is self-perpetuating because it creates insular monopolies that are destructive to people, organizations and the world. I’m drawn to not because I’m a 50+ age women, but because of my personal experience and frustration in not finding purpose-driven work that gives me meaning and really utilizes me to make an impact.”

“Hiring bias has hurt me and my family, but I am guilty of it myself. We use hiring bias to reduce transaction costs and because of laziness. Hiring bias is a form of tribalism, caused by monopolistic power which creates deadweight loss and waste.”

“Change is coming. Be open and adaptive. Healthy debate is good. Challenge the status quo. Hiring bias exists subconsciously. Slowing down and thinking outside the comfort zone leads to more diversity. An aging female is a powerful force.”

This post was originally published on Dec 3, 2018 on Medium.

For additional information contact Michelle N. Moore, Founder, MindEQuity Inc.




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