Dear Reader,

Is anyone listening? As I am just about coming to the end of the first 66 Day Challenge (see here) and having run a couple of events for teams who were looking at how to enhance how they communicate and work together, I thought it was time to revisit how we listen to each other. 

More morsels of information at the end of this Inspire about ....

  • FREE webinar: How to keep moving towards your goals 3 – 4pm, Friday 4th April
  • The 66 Day Challenge - transform difficult interactions into productive working relationships Just £66 inc. VAT. See here for details of the second programme.
  • Free Coaching Audit: How could coaching help you to achieve your goals? Take one of my free Coaching Audits.

If you enjoy today’s edition of Inspire, please feel free to share it with friends and colleagues. They can sign up for free at

Best wishes

Melanie Greene

Is anyone listening?

Doesn’t everyone listen? I can hear you asking yourself. I really like the following quote from Alan Mumford:

‘It is so long since most of us began to listen that we probably regard it as a natural skill, yet observations of babies, and of managers, show that it is hearing which is natural and listening is not.'

And it is not just managers who can do with improving their listening skills, most of us can become very sloppy in our listening especially when we are very busy.

Are there different levels of listening? On a recent workshop that I attended with Michael Neill, he shared his five levels of listening, which people can engage in. They are:

Level One: Listening to affirm what the other person is saying, whether this is through non-verbal or verbal language.

Level Two: Listening to argue, where we are stuck in our own ‘map of the world’, which we do not want to move from, so we are listening in order to put across our own view of the world and if necessary argue for it.

Level Three: Listening to try and understand what the other person means, trying to relate to what they are saying. It is about getting a level of cognitive understanding, which can leave us so busy trying to think through and understand what they are saying that we do not really listen to everything they say.

Level Four: Listening to solve or fix a problem or to make them feel better. Again, we can be so busy thinking this through that we fail to really see what is there.

Level Five: Just listening Michael describes this as being a ‘rock with ears’ or a video camera, taking in everything you see and hear, without judgement. When you do this it allows your unconscious mind to see, hear and feel more clearly. It creates space for our intuition to work and for new insights to occur.

Which of the levels of listening do you normally operate from? Which feels most natural and comfortable for you?

What are the costs of people not listening to each other? If you think of the cost of poor working relationships, in terms of the time and energy wasted arguing, sulking, avoiding each other, or mis-communicating with each other; or if you look at the mistakes that are made because of poor communication; or poor customer service because staff are not feeling valued and listened to themselves. I always think that if you want staff to treat customers and clients with respect, warmth, and good communication, then they need to be experiencing that from their managers and from each other.

I recently read that in very large businesses it costs $26,041: cumulative cost per worker per year due to productivity losses resulting from communications barriers. See here for some more facts about the cost of poor communication.

Good communication is more than just talking I think that so much of the time when we think of improving how we communicate, we think about how to be more assertive, how to speak up, how to ask questions, but listening is an essential feature of good communication.

What are the benefits of improving your listening? In our busy working and home lives, we can often think that we don’t have time to listen properly to others. We end up half listening, while multitasking and never giving our full attention. If we stop and really listen, showing that we are listening, and asking some well placed questions, we can reap many benefits:

  • Improved rapport with others, which in turn makes it easier to have those ‘difficult’ conversations at work or give feedback to others.
  • A greater connection with others will make them feel more comfortable in the workplace and reduce the ‘threat’ response they feel due to the everyday pressures of work. Listen to the start of my free webinar for more about the threat response. See here.
  • You can help others to solve their own problems by listening to them, asking them questions, helping them to think the problem through and explore possible solutions.
  • Linked to the last point if you are a manager (or a parent) who finds your time taken up solving other people’s (or children’s) problems, listening and questioning them can help develop their confidence and ability to solve their own problems, thereby freeing up your time to focus on what you are meant to be doing.
  • A greater understanding of what makes your colleagues tick will help you to adapt how you communicate and work with them, to create an easier and more effective, efficient working relationship.

‘A good listener is not only popular everywhere,

but after a while he gets to know something.’

Wilson Mizner

What would be the benefits for you? How would others benefit from you listening more?

What stops us from listening fully? An Inspire that I wrote in 2008 covers some of the common blocks to really listening to others, see here to find out more about ‘on-off’ listening, red flag listening, and eureka listening.

However, for so many of us today, time seems to be the biggest issue, and also what is going on within our own heads, which stops us focussing on others. Winnie the Pooh humourously sums this up in Pooh’s Little Instruction Book:

‘If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.’

I think it is the fluff and stuff which is churning in our minds which stops us from stopping and truly listening.

What gets in the way of you listening to others?

Which working relationship could you improve through better listening? Even the most challenging relationship at work (and in families) can be improved by better listening. Think about a relationship that could be improved and the benefits of improving it.

  • What level of listening are you currently engaging in with them?
  • What level of listening could you use to improve the quality of your interactions?

On workshops and in coaching sessions, clients sometimes say to me, ‘but I can’t stand X, they drive me mad, I don’t what to spend time listening to them talk about their weekend, etc’. If the relationship is causing problems at work (or at home) and you have to deal with them regularly, and there is a cost attached to having the poor working relationship, then improving how you listen to them during normal workplace (or family) interactions, will start to improve things. You don’t have to sit down, have a cup of tea and a chat with them in order to improve things. In fact, trying to do that with someone you don’t have rapport with can often make things worse. Simply focus on improving the normal everyday interactions you have with them.

‘Listening in dialogue is listening more to meaning than to words…In true listening, we reach behind the words, see through them, to find the person who is being revealed verbally and nonverbally.’

John Powell, Theologian

Do you want further help in dealing with challenging interactions and relationships at work?

  • Join the 2nd 66 Day Challenge which is starting on Friday 25th April – see here for details of what you get for £66 inc. VAT. 
  • Take my free coaching audit to find out how coaching can support you in changing and achieving your goals, email for details.
  • Come on my free webinar How to keep moving towards your goals 3 – 4pm, Friday 4th April.

The 66 Day Challenge

Transform difficult interactions into productive working relationships see here for details. Just £66 inc. VAT.

If you say, ‘Yes’ to one or more of the following questions ….

  • Are you dealing with clients or colleagues who run rings around you?
  • When you communicate with some people do you feel like you’re speaking a different language?
  • Do you wonder how to handle sales conversations for fear of losing sales?
  • Are you struggling to manage staff or associates’ performance?
  • Do you deal with suppliers who do not seem to understand your needs?

…. then The 66 Day Challenge is for you. At £66 inc. VAT it will support you in transforming the difficult interactions you have in your life into more productive, constructive working relationships. For more details or to book a place, please email me at or call on +44 (0) 1865 377334. 


Free Coaching Audit – finding out how coaching can help you

Free Coaching Audit If you are running your own business, working on your own or struggling with working within an organisation, then coaching can support you in tackling the day to day issues you face. The free Coaching Audit is designed for individuals who are wondering whether coaching will benefit them and wanting to think through what they want to focus on during a coaching programme. The Coaching Audit involves the following:

  • You complete a pre-coaching questionnaire and return it to me.
  • We have a 45 minute telephone conversation to discuss your needs and what coaching might be necessary to meet your needs. I make sure that you get something practical from the free audit.
  • I send a proposal of what training, coaching or counselling might be suitable.
  • You make the decision as to whether you wish to proceed.

Email or call me on 01865 377334 to discuss your coaching needs. Here is how one of my clients last year benefited from coaching:

‘I sought coaching to address some personal and professional dilemmas with which I felt completely “stuck”. The coaching approach provided practical ideas and strategies to help me to move forward as well as a space in which to reflect on my own thoughts and ideas. I was surprised to discover how many of the problems (and solutions!) lay in my own way of thinking about things, rather than in external situations. I enjoyed Melanie’s style. I found her to be warm and humorous. She is willing to be with you both as a professional and as a fellow human being, sharing her own experience. Overall, the sessions were both enjoyable and very beneficial.’ Clinical Psychologist


FREE webinar: Your Goals For 2014: Keep moving towards your destination 3 – 4pm Friday 4th April.

Have you set yourself goals for 2014 but feel you are not achieving them, join me for this free webinar looking at how you can manage your mood and motivation to achieve your goals.

Email to book your place.


Do you want speakers for your business network event? 

I speak at a range of events, and always make sure that the talks are interactive and practical, with people learning something that they can directly apply back at work. Recent talks have included:

  • Managing Challenging Interactions
  • Mastering Your Inner Critic (based on my book)
  • Changing Habits of a Lifetime
  • Learning From Your Mistakes
  • Managing Your Mood and Motivation
  • Your Brain At Work


Why not share Inspire with colleagues and friends? 

If you know of anyone else who might be interested in receiving Inspire for free, pass this on to them or they can sign up on my website:

Melanie Greene
01865 377334