3 ways to take your listening to the next level


We often think of it listening as receiving information either correctly and completely, or incorrectly or partially.

If we’re really paying attention to our listening we might notice whether we are attending to information using visual, auditory and other sensory cues, or we might take it up a notch and absorb emotional cues and information.

Otto Scharmer* created the model below to help us understand listening more deeply. He suggests that there is another whole level to listening in which we are present not just to what is being said, but to the future which is lying patiently just beyond. It can, he suggests, be a generative practice.

Most of us have experienced this profound shift in presence. It has a timeless quality and a sense of possibility.

Next time you are having a meaningful conversation with someone:

  1. Notice if you are comparing what you are hearing to your existing knowledge or beliefs (L1 or L2)
  2. Consciously soften not just your mind but lean in to the other person’s lived experience (L3)
  3. And if you’re up for it, see if you can sense the space beyond, the future ‘wanting to emerge’ (L4)


 *The American economist and MIT lecturer Otto Scharmer founded the Presencing Institute and developed amongst other things Theory U, of which the levels of listening model is part. 
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