Part 6 – What to do during the listening conversation (continued) and ending the conversation

Assumptions not beliefs

Beliefs are personal and have been part of the speaker’s past conditioning and are therefore harder to shift.  Assumptions, on the other hand, can be likened to beliefs, but assumptions can be explored more easily and dropped if it feels right for the speaker to do so.

Avoid distracting the speaker

Any time you shift your attention away from the speaker, they will notice and it will stop or alter their thinking.

Watch out for

  • Note taking – the speaker might think, “What have I said that they want to write down?”
  • Looking at your watch – “Am I talking too much, are they bored?”
  • Your eyes not being on them – “Is there something more interesting, have they stopped listening?”
  • Negative sounds, such as tutting, intake of breath – “Have I said something wrong?”
  • Movements from your body, hands, feet, etc. – “Are they not interested in what I am saying?”

It is good to offer positive acknowledgement to the speaker, non verbally, with your eyes and your facial expressions, or through a quiet word of encouragement.


As you have little or no idea what may arise from the speaker, be sensitive that their emotions and feelings are likely to be invoked.  For many speakers, this will be the first time they have felt really heard and as a consequence may find the experience unsettling.  This may trigger different emotional/physical reactions and responses.  As the listener, it is important that you treat all reactions and responses as neutral, i.e. neither good nor bad.  How you react or respond will be picked up by the speaker, and therefore can make or break the conversation.


At the end of the conversation, take a moment to share what you appreciate about the speaker.  There are many things that could be appreciated, such as their courage to share what they have shared, the strength they are showing, their resilience, and so on.  One suggestion is to take a deep breath, look them in the eyes and say the one or two things that arise for you that you appreciate about them at that moment.

Overall effect

Through this positive experience speakers will feel valued, heard, accepted, validated, acknowledged and appreciated.

What next?

I hope that you have enjoyed these six posts and found them interesting and helpful.  If you wish to experience the feeling of being heard, take your thinking to a new level, or to enhance your listening skills, it would be great to hear from you.  Just call me on 07939-013651 or email  Thank you.


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6 Responses to Part 6 – What to do during the listening conversation (continued) and ending the conversation

  1. This is extremely powerful. We think that we know how to communicate effectively, reality is that we don’t. What a fantastic resource Colin thank you!


  2. Paula says:

    It’s so weird. We all think we listen well, we all believe we hear what others are saying but it’s all so untrue. I know I can be like it, especially when it comes to my mother – but then I watch how she responds to me and she does the same! I work harder at not being like that, so I do listen more..but hey you can only be the change you wish to see, you cant change others! Listening more now, after reading your very important…


    • Colin Smith says:

      Hi Paula

      That is so true, most of us believe we do listen well, der, I have two ears! Yet, as we know we don’t always listen properly, even at a fundamental level. As you may have seen, if you look through my [previous blogs, there are many things you can DO to listen better, however, unless you intend to BE listening, all the skills in the world, will not prevent the person speaking from feeling not heard, or valued or validated. When we intend to truly listen, pay the speaker our full attention, maintain eye contact, be interested and not interrupt (i.e. look at watch, lose eye contact, check mobile, etc.), the magic really happens and words tumble out of their mouths like we would not believe.

      I do wish you well with your listening.



  3. Great blog Colin, most people think they know how to listen but are in fact just hearing, which i call the teanager syndrome, “In one ear and out the other” If more people took the time to actively listen to others there would be far fewer misunderstandings


    • Colin Smith says:

      Thank you Mike for your observation, so true. The fact of the matter, and where the challenge lies, is that most people genuinely believe they are good listeners, when in fact all they are doing is listening for the gap so that they can speak.


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