Appendix I

The Eight Disciplines—Summaries and Action Plans


Listening—what could be easier or more routine? Well, I'm sorry to say that neither is true! Listening is difficult and done surprisingly rarely. But the riches we can uncover—and the difficulties we can avoid—when we learn to really listen are incalculable.

Listening is a natural ability in people. We were all born with it. However, the listening I am talking about is an art and a technique: listen to learn, listen deeply, listen effectively, listen wholeheartedly, listen with an open mind and without judgment or presumption. Listen not only to every word the person is saying, but also listen to what is not said. Listen, assemble, and analyze!

Based on my many years of management experience, there are three different levels of effectiveness for listening. The more effectively we listen, the more we learn, and the more productive we can be as we set out to accomplish new goals.

Listen: Levels of Effectiveness

Level One: Selective Listening.

At Level One we listen only to information that meets our immediate agenda. Often, under the guise of listening, this level can take the form of frequent interruptions and narrowly focused questions designed only to elicit answers consistent with our interests, not to enlarge our knowledge. At this level, we listen only for what we want to hear, and interpret what is said from our viewpoint alone.

Level Two: Engaged Listening.

We reach Level Two when we engage in productive ...

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