Listening Flow Chart for Business

The following flow chart shows a series of choices that you face in conversation starting with the most basic: whether to talk or listen. Your mission is to identify, and support, your goals for having this particular conversation in the first place.

You talk.

Do you focus?

No. Say what comes to mind.

Yes. Take a moment to structure what you are going to say. Decide how much detail to go into. If you are going to say a lot, it will help both you and your listener(s) to briefly summarize what you plan to say and list your sub-points first. If you aren't certain what structure works best, try clarifying before you start.

Do you clarify?

No. Use your best guess about what's important to them and what they already know. (But beware of rambling and pedantry.)

Yes. Ask whether they want to hear what you want to say. (If someone starts looking uninterested or upset while you are talking, try clarifying.)

You listen.

Do you listen attentively?

Yes. Take steps to minimize distractions. Think and react, verbally and using body language, to help synchronize yourself with the person talking.

No. You can either...

...half listen, and think about or do something else at the same time, with the risk that you will offend them and/or miss part of what they are saying; or

...ask to reschedule the conversation to a better time for listening.

These choices repeat over and over as your conversation continues.