Listen First Conversations - Complete Guide

For an introduction to Listen First Conversations and our Top 10 Tips, click here.

Before a Listen First Conversation...

  • Come with an open mind, ready to learn and grow
  • Let go of your assumptions about the other person
  • Agree on the purpose of the conversation
  • Define the scope, focus, and available topics for the conversation
  • Set time limits for the conversation as well as well as ground rules for speaking turns
  • Agree on a neutral location

In a Listen First Conversation...

  • Listen to others as you want them to listen to you
  • Prioritize respect and understanding
  • Fully listen to and consider others' views before sharing your own
  • Allow others the courtesy of silence while they are speaking
  • Never hijack the speaking turn or interrupt to make your point
  • Be fully present and curious rather than thinking of how to respond
  • Maintain a calm and respectful tone when speaking and a relaxed posture when listening
  • Physically engage free of distractions with eye contact and a relatively neutral expression
  • Be aware of sub-text: facial expressions, tone, body language
  • Restate what you heard to clarify understanding, making sure to use "I" statements (“What I heard you say was” or “The way I understand your position is”)
  • Ask thoughtful and respectful questions, free from judgement, assumption, or bias
  • Seek to discover common interests and areas of agreement by focusing more on why than what, more on personal experiences than positions

After a Listen First Conversation...

  • Share what you learned and gained from the experience
  • Take what you learned into your next conversation while honoring confidentiality 


Copyright Listen First Project, 2018