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Hearing without Pondering isn’t Listening

Listening is a critical skill for an Explorer. It’s so important, our ExPLORE methodology includes it as an integral process phase called Pondering. (For you Scrabble players, that’s the P in ExPLORE.)

Listening and Pondering are exhausting skills. Especially for us. It takes a lot of effort to listen in the unique 360-degree way we’ve developed. We don’t just listen to what is being said. We also listen to what is not being said. We listen to what could be said. And then we even listen to what is never said (conveyed silently through nonverbal cues).

I’m feeling that exhaustion today. After several days of leading an Expedition, I’ve been listening to everything with great care.

The organization we’re guiding is walking on new, unfamiliar ground. And as we were talking we’ve probed new areas for their work. They are experimenting with a new future in light of changes in their industry. Intense listening is tiring because it takes everything to focus 100%. You're thinking about what's going on in the room, and you're also thinking about what's beyond the room that could happen in the future.

When The Exploration Group takes on an Expedition, our planning reserves time for two important kinds of listening. First we ask questions while we are together with the commissioning organization. Then we save time to ponder after the conversation is over. The interesting thing about listening is that it happens not only in the midst of the conversations, but it happens in the quietness after the conversations have ended. This is why we call it Pondering.

The questions allow the information to be revealed. The Pondering allows that information to be analyzed and applied. I have learned that listening without pondering leads to an incomplete picture. We can hear anything, but without pondering, it isn’t really listening.

If you are seeking something new for your business, does your day include time for questions, time for hearing? More importantly, does it include time to ponder?

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