On Chapter 6 of the LEADS book, in the section titled “Communicate Effectively”, deep listening is described as “a more receptive kind of listening, where we overcome our inherent assumptions and interests to become more open to the other person’s meaning and intentions”.

“You listen deeply for only one purpose—to allow the other person to empty his or her heart.” Deep listening is a more receptive kind of listening, where we overcome our inherent assumptions and interests to become more open to the other person’s meaning and intentions. It’s a skill that enables you to understand people better and—in an ideal world—helps to create shared meaning with them. (Shared meaning is more than understanding a message, it means grasping the values underpinning the message).

The foundation for all leadership is the self, and as the Lead Self domain underpins all the other domains of the framework, it is thus no surprise that deep listening is a skill that relates to many others.  For example, listening is a personal skill essential to being able to resolve conflict, be a better coach, enhance your networking skills, and develop a better understanding of the system and context you are a part of.   

Deep listening is the highest level of listening.  It is not waiting for your turn to speak – like in the previous video, listening only as a segue to get the butter — but listening to understand yourself and to help the other understand as well.  It is listening to learn from the other, and it requires the suspension of judgment and a dedication to understanding what is behind the words of the other.  Deep listening is full-body listening – mindfully paying attention to the tone, the body language, and most importantly – the unsaid message – behind the words another is speaking.  Deep listening calls upon you to be fully present, and to only ask questions that bring what is being unsaid to the surface.