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Elevate Your Sessions with Full Spectrum Listening
Episode 3511th April 2024 • The Mindful Coach Podcast • Brett Hill
00:00:00 00:25:31

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In this episode, I'm diving into a topic that can truly elevate not only your coaching but also the quality of your life overall.

This is crucial skill for professional coaches and anyone in a helping role.

It's about a skill that goes beyond active listening - it's called full spectrum listening. This technique involves engaging all your senses to pay attention on purpose, in the moment, and without judgment. And it goes places you probably don't expect.

Here's a breakdown of the topics and where they are in the episode:

00:00:03 - Introduction to Full Spectrum Listening

Brett Hill introduces the concept of full spectrum listening as a refined form of active listening that engages all senses to pay attention in conversations, both professionally and personally.

00:02:36 - Importance of How Things Are Spoken

Hill highlights the significance of the way words are spoken, including pacing, language, emotional intensity, and delivery, emphasizing that these factors contribute to a different experience beyond just the words themselves.

00:06:46 - Spatial Dynamics and Proximity

Hill discusses the importance of spatial dynamics and proximity in communication, sharing a personal experience of understanding personal boundary space and cultural influences on physical proximity in conversations.

00:11:53 - Dual Awareness and Self-Reflection

Hill delves into the concept of dual awareness, where active listening involves paying attention to both the client and one's own responses, thoughts, feelings, and sensations, emphasizing that this self-reflection is an integral part of full spectrum listening.

00:14:28 - Human Senses and Evolution

Hill explores the idea that humans have senses beyond the traditional five senses, suggesting that there are capacities and senses related to group dynamics and reading the room, indicating that these abilities may not be fully developed but are still significant in communication.

00:15:42 - The Power of Group Sense

Brett discusses the concept of group sense and shares his experience with Matrix leadership training. He emphasizes the unique intelligence of a group and the value of developing senses for group dynamics.

00:17:20 - The Role of Coach Intuition

Brett highlights the importance of coach intuition, describing it as a valuable resource in facilitating someone else's process. He emphasizes the need to test and validate intuitive impressions to ensure their usefulness.

00:19:18 - Using Subtle Senses

Brett delves into the use of subtle senses in coaching, acknowledging the potential for specific information to arise through these senses. He emphasizes the value of these senses in deepening understanding and fast-tracking coaching sessions.

00:20:39 - Deep Listening and Mindful Coaching

Brett discusses the significance of deep listening and mindful coaching, emphasizing the importance of being fully present with the client in the moment. He highlights the need for non-judgmental, open listening to fully understand the client's experience.

00:23:51 - Enhancing Client Value

Brett underscores the value of paying exceptional attention in coaching, distinguishing it as a unique and enriching way to relate to others. He encourages coaches to open up their senses to provide exceptional value for their clients and enhance their own satisfaction.

Transcripts

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The Mindful Coach podcast. Welcome to this edition of the Mindful Coach podcast. I'm your host, Brett Hill. And today I don't have a guest because I'm talking about a subject that is so important and so makes such a big difference to coaches, other professionals who are in helping roles that like coaches, and not only that, in your personal life as well. I'm talking about a skill that's listed often as active listening, but I'm going way farther than that.

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We're talking about something I call full spectrum listening. Now, what is full spectrum listening? It means actively engaging an entire array of your senses in a very refined way to pay attention on purpose, in the moment and unjudgmentally to, you know, lift and shift John Kavat's end definition of mindfulness, or one of them, into the conversation to your clients or your colleagues or your relationships or the groups that you're in or wherever you happen to be in conversation. This is so important. Now, the notion of listening in and of itself has been well covered in a lot of places, so you don't need for me to go over all of that.

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The concepts of active listening are important, and they matter. I want to add some different dimensionality to this that's a little off the charts, and that might come as a surprise. When you're really, really listening, there's other senses that come involved besides listening, besides your ears. So let's just walk back just a second and talk technical for just a moment. And that means that listening refers to auditory impulses that are coming to your ear.

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Your brain makes neurological sense out of that, translates it into a language of some kind that you then interpret to have some kind of a meaning, which causes you to understand what is being said in specific ways. The words that you hear get mapped to your preconceived notions, what you've already learned about that, plus your experiences, and then that offers up an experience of what you're hearing strictly. We're talking about strictly from the auditory sensation level. What goes into just the auditory sensation level? There's way more than you might think if you really dive into a little bit.

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It's not just the words on the page. But what if I delivered the podcast? What if I started off like, well, welcome to the Mindful coach podcast. Here we are today, and we are going to be talking about mindfulness. Okay, so I was born and raised in Oklahoma, so I come by that kind of thing authentically, you might say.

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But the experience is very different, even though it's not that different than what I said before. And so the words, how they are spoken, the pacing, the exact language, the phrasing, where are the pauses, the emotional. The emotional intensity, the emotional content. Oh, this is Brad. And today we're going to be talking about mindfulness and listening.

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I know you've heard it before. It's like I don't even know why I'm talking about this. Okay. Right. Completely different experiences.

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Completely different experiences. So the actual way things are spoken matter? I would say almost more so than the words themselves, although the words themselves are obviously significant and meaningful. So I'm asking coaches, and I help teach this with coaches and anyone, my clients, to listen carefully to the big picture of what's being said. Now, by that, I mean listening to the words that are being spoken, how they're being spoken, and at the same time, I'm inviting you and others to back up just a moment and use your eyes.

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And this is where the full spectrum piece starts to layer in. And this goes to places you aren't expecting, so stay tuned for that.

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Watching with your listening with your eyes. Now, listening, as I was saying, from a technical point of view, is really about ears, right? So you say, listen with your eyes. Well, you kind of know what I mean. But really, your eyes are about vision, right?

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So what you see combined with what you hear, and let's just call that all a listening experience. So you can watch with your eyes. Listen with your eyes. Now, the way that I'm talking about using your eyes is not your normal sort of just taking a look and seeing what's going on. I'm talking about almost, if I take it to an extreme, it's almost a The Mindful Coach Association study.

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Oh, they're wearing these kinds of shoes, and that means that they're wealthy. Oh, look, they have a smudge on their shoes, and that means they've been out in the park or up in the walk or walk in the dirt, and you can see that they're a little disheveled, and so maybe they aren't so neat. And so it's like noticing details. In that sense, it's a very objective, very analytical point of view. And while that can be exceptionally useful, it's not the kind of thing I'm talking about.

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Well, at a very fundamental level, it may be, but then I would like for you to ask you to kind of back up and notice your experience as a whole. So, you've got your hearing inputs, you've got your visual inputs, and you're noticing, oh, they have this kind of a smile. They tilt their head this way. They use their hands a lot. They're very animated when they talk, noticing these things.

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And as a coach, you're just noticing. And you might be naming those things. You're not necessarily taking any action on them, although you may, depending on how the client presents, what they're presenting. And then there's another layer here. If you're physically present with somebody, this is something that most people aren't so aware of.

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There's tracking. The words that I use are this tracking, paying attention to the space dynamics. I'll tell you a quick story. When I was employed at a company where I was worldwide manager of technical support for a computer company, there was this guy who was a salesperson, and his. His personal boundary space was really not like anybody else.

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And you could tell that because when you talk to him, he would sometimes be just almost nose to nose with you, and he would just be like you were. You're looking. His whole face would be, like, right up front in your face. And it's not in an aggressive way. He's not like, I'm all that.

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It's not like that. He's just talking about, you know, the way the trip went or whatever. It's just kind of mundane talking. But his special awareness was not calibrated the same as everybody else on the planet. Not everybody else, but everybody else in this country.

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One of the things about spatial and proximity, what's comfortable for people is that it's very culturally associated. Changes from culture to culture. In some places, people are very close to each other. They get much closer, and they have conversations closer to each other than you might be familiar with. And then others, it's quite far apart.

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And so. But this guy, he would literally be almost no. So I saw the way this normally works is when someone steps into what you would call your personal space and you begin to feel it, you go, this is, like, too close. You would take a step back. Well, he wouldn't get the cue, and he would step in, and so.

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But other people, they're like, okay, cool, whatever. They don't care. But this guy, he wants to. He wanted to be like, much, really up front, so he would get. So I decided one day just to see how far this would go, and if I didn't move, what would happen?

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And he just kept saying, pretty soon he's literally, like, two inches from my nose. Talking to me as if, you know, his lunch or his trip or whatever we were talking about was so interesting. And he's speaking so quickly. He's literally like spraying me with saliva as he speaks, and he's not even noticing that or giving it a thought that we're, like, extremely close to face to face. So I thought, okay, so I use that as a reference point even to this day, because it's an example of how variant this can be.

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And so it can mean a lot how proximate people are to you, how comfortable they are. I tend to like a lot of space around me in general, and it's just the way my. I run my. It's the way I roll, right. And other people, they don't mind so much.

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And so it's an interesting experiment. In fact, in one therapy training I was in, one of the things we did, we got together, and people would be standing, oh, at a comfortable distance to each other. And, in fact, the instruction was to stand a comfortable distance. What is comfortable for you, right. And so you would function.

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And this changes a lot depending on male, female and racial dynamics. And all kinds of things can come into play in terms of, like, how close can you be physically to someone and feel comfortable? And then we would have everybody experiment, like, take a step back from that. Oh, I start to feel disconnected or like, I'm not. Okay, so there's something about proximity and connection.

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All right, that's interesting. And then you take a step in. Take another step in and be a little bit closer than you would normally feel given your perfect situation. You're a little bit closer. And does it.

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How edgy is that for you? Is it really super edgy or is it just like, it's a little closer, but it's okay. When does it start to be like, no, this is too far? Those are very fun experiments to do, and they'll find that if you do that in a group of 1020 people, that people are kind of all over the map on this kind of thing. So this is.

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And I'm saying this because you have a calibration for that. And so does your client have a calibration for that? Now, with Zoom, we can't see that so well. But definitely when you work with people one on one or in groups groups, you can begin to work with this kind of a spatial dynamic, and it's useful and informative. There can be a lot of content come up from just that simple exercise.

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You have someone get a little uncomfortable and notice what comes up for them. Gigantic amounts of stuff can happen. And, of course, I always caveat this with all coaches should be trauma informed so that if somebody gets really scared, terrorized horrified by an experience like that, you know, to pump the bricks and how to manage it. So what I'm trying to do here is layer, in a sense, of full spectrum listening. So we have the vision, we have hearing, we have spatial dynamics.

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What is another layer of full spectrum listening? Another layer of this is feelings and sensations, memories, thoughts that arise in you as a result of your experience with someone else. Now, you might say, well, how is that listening? Because what you're doing is you're paying attention not just to what they're saying, but your response to it. In my training in the mindful coach method, I call this dual awareness, where you're paying attention to both yourself and the client.

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That's where you really start to be full spectrum, because it's not just about them. It's also about you. What content, if you will, thoughts, feelings, sensations, memories, emotions are coming up in you as a result of your experience of your client or your partner or your colleague. That's listening. Also, that's listening to sort of the bigger conversation.

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It's not just what they're saying. It's not just what you're saying. It's what's happening in you, what is brought into your awareness as a result of the experience of this other person and the words that they speak and the space that they're taking and the way that they look. What is your experience of all of that? How do you respond to that?

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That's part of listening. That's part of full spectrum listening. So I want to talk about some different kinds of senses, if you will, that I don't think are on the map. In fact, I know they're not on the map, particularly because there's really not much science to support it. Now, why would I do that?

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Why would I even mention something like that? Because we are not static creatures. By that, I mean humanity has evolved over millions of years. And as we move through time, this human organism, through generations, adapts to accommodate its experience. The experience of the world informs your genetics and your biology in such a way that generations to come have different kinds of genetics than the ones that come before you.

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And so, as a result, you can see changes in human genes to. To adapt over time to our environment. Now, that process hasn't stopped. These changes are happening. And that means that there are capacities that we have that are not as well developed as other capacities that we have.

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We have parts of our brain that are, quote, unquote, the newer parts. Executive functions of the brain are, they believe are the newer parts of the brain that executive functions. Of course, I'm talking about the components that allow you to be mindful, the components that allow you to do proper sequencing, planning in a really big way, like stepping out of a frame and looking at it and going, oh, this is my big experience. That capacity is really unique and special and is one of the younger parts of the brain. Given that we have capacities that are not as fully developed as others, there are going to be some that.

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That are kind of on the fringes, on the edges. And I'm of the belief that we have senses that are not the five senses. There's, of course, the 6th sense, which I know you've all heard of, like psychic phenomena, and that's definitely in the range, but I'm going to be a little more precise than that. I believe we have senses about groups, for example, that you may have heard the term read the room. When you walk in and you see you're in a room and it's like, what's the sense of the room?

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What's going on here? What's this feel like overall? And the sense is not contributed to by any one individual. It's a collection. So this is what I would call a group sense.

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And I spent quite a bit of time doing some training in an amazing training called Matrix leadership by Amina Nolan, where I was trained as a facilitator. And it was so incredible because I would sit in these groups and turns out I have a sense for this, for a group, what might call the group field. And I'm not trying to be really woo woo about this, but there is definitely something there. There's something about the way the intelligence of the group, and you can go and read about group dynamics and group psychology, and there's a lot of about this. A lot about, you know, the intelligence of the group is like the combination of all the members of the group plus something that's unique to the group itself, as if the group itself was a unique entity.

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I believe we have senses for those kinds of things, and using those senses, you can also bring them to bear with other people. So when I'm in conversation with other people, there's not just the visual, the auditory, and my evoked experience from the words in the visuals, but there's another sense. I get the feeling like this, I'm not sure about this. And this opens up a whole new well, are you inventing that? That could be just completely made up, and that is true.

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And that's why when you study this, you begin to sort out what is and isn't manufactured just a complete invention of your imagination? How do you do that? By testing it. I do this all the time when I'm with clients. So if I hold this space where there's a sort of sense of what's going on, this opens the door to what I would call more subtle impressions to arise.

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And those can feel like intuition and often curiosity. And so coach intuition is a real thing and it's the thing that is valued. Even in The Mindful Coach Association, they talk about this. Using your intuition to help you inquire, lead, facilitate someone else's process is an extremely powerful tool, asset, resource for you. How you develop that is a whole other thing because it's so fuzzy, right?

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How do I know? I'm just making, I don't even go there because I could be just making that. And that is a wise consideration. But that doesn't mean you should write it off because you can test it. I will often say, sometimes to a client I'll say I, I'm unsure, but I have a sense about something is, and it, is it okay if I ask you about it?

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And I'll say something like whatever's in my mind and if I hit, if it's a hit, great. And if it's not, that's okay too, because I'm not attached to it being right. I want, I want an know because if I'm right or wrong, that's information for me. So I'm very objectively trying to test whether what's occurring to me kind of from these fuzzy senses you might say is for real or not. Is it in a direction of being helpful or not.

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Now this can go pretty far. I, because of why I'm wired, I can receive or have information arise in my senses that can be pretty specific about people that I really have no way to know. And so this might venture off into the world like psychophenomenon. I don't really, and I'm not really that interested in what you call it. I am interested in how can I use a sense like this that you want to use as a source, as a resource, if it's valuable to you, and it can be, and I can speak, tell you from personal experience, this can be exceptionally valuable.

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I can fast track your sessions in a way that is difficult to communicate because you can really see deeply. You get a sense very quickly of what's going on with people in a deep way beyond what they've communicated overtly. Communication, you just transcribe the communication, but you get a sense of it and then you can ask questions. Is it like this? Is this so, is this so without leading, just literally asking questions about what comes up for you and being very gentle and being very open about the direction that those are going.

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You want to be very careful, of course, not to overreach or to be too surprising. You want to always lead with what the client is presenting to you at the moment. And that's one of the key elements of mindful coaching, is that you're working with the client in the moment. So you don't want to say, well, I have a hunch that, you know, you would be a good painter, that you may have that hunch, but rather than ask them a question like that, you could say something like, you could listen for what they're saying with their hands. So is creating stuff important to you?

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If they mention creation, creating things, you say, so that's important to you? Yeah, it's important to me. Well, what kind of stuff is it? Well, I love to draw. Oh, well, no surprise to you.

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Now you have confirmation that it's important to them. And so in this way, you can learn to really listen deeply, openly, in a non judgmental way that factors in not only what the client is saying, but the way that they present the space that they're occupying your own senses around them, both the obvious ones, like memory, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and then also the more subtle success. Those are all elements of what I call full spectrum listing up, in a technical term, up and down the stack from the hardware layer, physical layer, to the application layer. Right, application layer being, what are we doing here? And we're in a coaching session.

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And here are the resources and the content of this communication. All of this combines to create an exceptionally resourceful ally for you as a coach or facilitator of other people's processes. And so I want to encourage you to bring that lens, if you will, bring that focus into your sessions more powerfully. And this involves saying, often saying less, receiving in a big way, like a big antenna, receiving more, not so much, focusing in like an eagle eye on the details, but letting that eagle eye of details up and down the stack, letting your senses receive all that and notice the dance of all that in your own mind, in your own system, in such a way that it can serve the client. And this is where this play of senses within you, this mechanism by which you can relate to someone else's experience and facilitate their process in a skillful way, by simply paying attention in a way that allows you to go places that other coaches can't because you're really, really paying attention in a way that other coaches don't.

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And this helps you distinguish your practice as well as provide an exceptional value for your clients. And I have to say, it's also a really, really rich way to relate from. When I walk away from sessions, I often feel, wow, that was so powerful and connecting. And it's not like I'm wanting that. I have to have that to be okay.

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It's just a noticing. Oh, yeah, that feels really good. Very satisfying experience. And that is my wish for you, that you have a satisfying experience that you can open up your senses in the ways that we talked about, in a way to go deeper with people, clients, relationships, companions, colleagues, bosses, peers, simply by showing up in a way where you're paying attention in a full spectrum way. And that's it for me today with the Mindful coach podcast.

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If you are aligned with this kind of message and you'd like to hear more of it, then follow the podcast. Leave us a review on iTunes, tunes or wherever you're watching really, really matters. And you can find my website@themindfulcoach.com, where you can find about all the other stuff that I'm involved in. And we can connect there as well, so you can make an appointment. I do one on one work as well as I teach coaches about the kinds of things I'm just talking about right here.

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If that's the kind of thing of interest to you, I'd be happy to talk to you. So this is once again, Brett Hill. Thank you. The mindful Coach podcast is a service with a mindful coach association.

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