When our clients require specialized expertise that we do not possess, we do our best to connect them with other qualified professionals in our referral network. In this post, we would like to introduce you to Trudy Pelletier.

Trudy is a Communication Specialist focused on helping business families resolve their biggest conflicts in the face of continuity and succession planning. Trudy is a FAMILY ENTERPRISE ADVISOR certificant, a certified Executive Coach, and is licensed in Emotional Intelligence and Fierce Conversations. Newly, Trudy is an author of the book “Take a Walk on the Inside – Build the Foundation for Masterful Leadership and Expand Your Emotional Intelligence.”

This month, Trudy shares with us her thoughts on active listening.

How do I listen to others?

“As though everyone were my beloved speaking their last cherished words to me”

Statistics say “not a chance”!

There are multiple barriers to listening, including a significant distinction between hearing and listening.  Studies show 97% of the population listens in order to respond and only 3% listen to understand.  This means that the majority of us are already thinking about our response as the other person is still talking.  It’s impossible to understand what the other person intends, means, and is saying, when our mind is focused on formulating a response.


Population that listens in order to respond


Population that listens to understand

At the conclusion of a family conference, a participant once said to me, “When you are facilitating, you are with us – it’s like no one else exists”.  I’m listening for potential.  I’m listening for the emotions behind the words.  I’m listening for the dynamics in the space.

So why are we so under-developed in our listening?

Listening takes energy and we tend to be at the effect of our circumstances, rather than be deliberate.  Take a moment to see which barriers are in your way:

  • Predetermined attitudes, assumptions and conclusions about the other person or the topic; or both: Most of us are living in guilt of the past or fear of the future, such that we aren’t present.
  • Further to this we aren’t in the present moment as we’re consumed by competing demands and not enough time.
  • We tend to take in information that validates our context and belief system. We habitually come into conversations “knowing” – instead of being curious – which would have us naturally leaning in to listen deeply, asking questions to understand, and engaging with our wholehearted attention.

Active listening, also known as empathetic listening is observable.  The behaviors of this kind of listening are holding eye contact, open body language, engaging with nods and acknowledgement, asking questions, paraphrasing, clarifying and summarizing to ensure understanding.

If there was a video camera on you, what would we see?