How To Listen

What You Say: Immersion Listening

Effective communication is more than just saying the right words. You are not likely to find the right words to say if you have never learned how to listen.

Joan Boneberg is a board-certified speech pathologist. It is no irony that a speech pathologist spends a lot of time helping her clients learn how to listen. In fact she has coined the term “immersion listening”® to describe a heightened listening style.

When asked to describe this listening style, she compares it to immersion learning when one studies a foreign language. We here at think it is a wonderful concept and are pleased to publish below Joan Boneberg’s own words about the concept. –Gene Griessman, Ph.D.

“Listening is the core of communication. Without strong and authentic listening skills, we will not be effective in other areas of communication, i.e. understanding and perspective, body language, speaking and commenting with insight. There continues to be limited awareness of the power listening can bring to initial interactions, and building trusted relationships. Unfortunately, improving listening skills tends to be a low priority on the self-improvement ‘to do list’.

There are various listening styles, passive, informational, superficial, etc., however the most effective is immersion listening. This style is an authentic, essential, high-level approach to listening. Immersion listening includes the components of full attention, openness, speaker perspective, empathy and receiving the complete message without pre-conclusion. The key of immersion listening is to be open and in the moment without anticipating what your communication partner will say. This however does not mean the listener needs to agree with the speaker’s message. It just means the listener needs to receive it fully.

In today’s world of multi-tasking, using an immersion listening style can be challenging because of the necessary focus, discipline, energy and commitment it takes to put into practice. However, individuals who use this listening style are typically viewed by others as energetic, interested and approachable.

Business networking is a prime example of the power of immersion listening. At an event, an immersion listener can gain the attention and interest of others far more easily than someone who is a passive listener. People want to engage with others who demonstrate a true and authentic interest in them and their message. Immersion listening truly is the foundation of communication and building relationships.

When interacting with clients, colleagues or superiors, individuals need to know that their issues, goals and opinions are valued. It is only through consistent use of this listening style that others see the interest of their communication partner. The effort it takes to use immersion listening to build trusted relationships is small in comparison to the relationships and loyal client base that can result.”

We believe immersion listening as a listening style has great potential for use in media interviews, business situations, such as networking events, and in virtually every social relationship.

By Joan M. Boneberg, M.S., CCC-SLP, Speech Improvement Resources, LLC © 2010Business Communication Coach,  Board Certified Speech Pathologist, 2475 Northwinds Pkwy., Suite 200Alpharetta, Georgia 30009 678.522.5955




Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and communication strategist. His book “TheWords Lincoln Lived By” is in its 23rd printing and “Time Tactics of Very Successful People” is in its 43rd printing. His training video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions and annual meetings all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, call 404-435-2225. Learn more at Atlanta Speakers Bureau or at his website. His latest book “Lincoln and Obama” has just been released by Audible.
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