A Listening System by Shooting 3’s!

Communication Empathy Respect


Key Point: Learn and apply a powerful listening system and people will think your ears are growing in the best way. Below you will find three GIANT and CONNECTED tools for the first time in one blog. 

I’m a big believer in the power of three (hence the Character Triangle). And I promise that you will go a long ways down the road of becoming a master communicator if you consciously apply the following three listening tools. Don’t worry about making everyone a better communicator. Instead, become one yourself and you will model it for others. People won’t exactly be sure how you do it. Some will say that you’re just naturally good at listening, but you and I will know that it’s because we are self aware, able to reach into our tool kit and apply this system. As technical requirements and competence expectations dramatically change in a digital way, being a master communicator will keep us relevant, key players in the game. Super communicators and listeners will be even more valuable and somewhat future-proof by helping people and organizations navigate dramatic change.

Tool One: Personal Emotional Connection (PEC) 

This involves three fundamental things. 1. Find and make a connection to the person (group) you’re listening to. You have something in common. Find what it is that genuinely bridges you to the other person (something as simple as a smile, or complex as a shared philosophy). 2. Empathize with the other person. Show you can genuinely stand in the other person’s shoes. Note: This most often does NOT mean sympathy… It can be as simple as, “you look like you’re in a hurry.” You don’t have to share grief and anguish to show empathy. 3. Move forward together. This can be agreeing on a solution or even agreeing to disagree… Or, simply looking forward to talking again. 

Tool Two: Presence, Process and Response (PPR) 

This involves showing you actually care what the other person has to say by: 1. Being very present, and totally absorbing what the other person is transmitting, including recognizing verbal and non-verbal cues radiating from the other. 2. Processing involves working hard to make sense what the person is really trying to communicate. If your mind is drifting into what you want to say while the other person is talking, stop! Refocus! Find the nuggets. 3. Response is play back… Confirming what you heard. This does not have to be phony paraphrasing or patronizing if you deep down disagree. It is a genuine response to demonstrate you have listened and understand. 

Tool Three; Situation, Target and Proposal (STP) 

This tool is great for convening small talk or navigating the most difficult problem solving. 1. Exploring the situation is agreeing to the salient observations about what’s in the environment impacting the conversation topic. 2. Determining TARGET involves finding out common objectives and mutual desires. 3. Proposal development includes coming up with ideas or recommendations that help achieve targets while keeping in mind the situation. (See the resource section on my site for a more complete explanation).

Here’s the real secret sauce: Learn to apply the 3×3, (all three tools, and each group of three principles at the SAME time). A master communicator can unconsciously apply all the behaviors rocking back and forth between all three categories. The nine principles connected together become a listening engine you can really rev up. 

Character Moves: 

  1. Commit to becoming a master communicator. Recognize where and how to proactively apply all three tools and nine principles. 
  2. Practice all of them everyday at every listening opportunity; including when you talk with yourself.  Be aware of what worked well. What didn’t. How you might better apply them next time. 
  3. Celebrate the improved relationships you’ve developed!

Shooting listening 3’s in The Triangle! 


One Millennial View: Someone was speaking recently about how it was an annoying pet peeve of theirs to receive texts about a specific time, place, or previously mentioned specific that was recently discussed via text already. Depending on their relationship with the person, their immediate response would likely be, “Hey, just scroll up!” Or, if it was Google-able, like an address, then they’d appreciate if the person could do their own research. Is that a tad intolerant? I suppose… But, I think we can all see this person’s point to a degree. And, in comparison, applying the 3’s in conversation is almost a real-life version of being able to “scroll up,” and remember those details from past conversation to prevent being redundant. Sure, a reminder is always nice, but it’s really appreciated if when already briefed, you’re ready to take the conversation into uncharted territory. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis