Breath of Clarity

Comment #1: Active Listening Partner Activity

Original Post by Ryan Hanlon:

This week I had the pleasure of speaking with my colleague Alex Johnsen on Teams. We spent approximately five minutes catching up with each other regarding our personal lives and our professions within VERTEX and then we discussed the application of current and former coursework. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has started I have seen a transition in my own social interactions via Zoom or Teams. At first it felt like people didn’t quite pick up on social queues; however, I have noticed recently that people have adjusted accordingly.

Prior to self-analyzing the meeting, I felt like the conversation went very well. Since then, I’ve watched the videos presented for this week and I’ve realized that my nonverbal listening could use some work. As Alex Lyon notes, “The first tip is non-verbal feedback. Now when people are listening closely to you, they are doing things like making eye contact, their nodding and their showing through their facial expression that they are paying attention to what you are saying” (Lyon 2017, 1:10-1:24).

During my conversation with Alex, I was polite, smiled and tilted my head; however, it was at the end of a long day and I may have performed some of the nonverbal actions such as eye-blocking as discussed in the Navarro video discussing the power of nonverbal communications (Navarro 2015).

I will say that during the conversation I was truly listening to Alex and fully understood everything he discussed. This may have been because I already had a relationship with him.

According to Manning, leaders should have three things in mind when developing communication, including modeling an honest and open style of communication, be patient and make a sincere effort to draw people out without constantly evaluating their remarks (Manning and Curtis 2015, 173). I believe I performed all three of these in the 20 to 30 minutes I engaged in conversation with Alex.


George Manning and Kent Curtis. The Art of Leadership, 5th Edition. (McGraw-Hill Eductation. 2015), Chapters 6-8.

Lyon, Alex. Year (n.d.) “Effective Listening Skills.” Communication Coach Alex Lyon. YouTube. Nov. 20, 2017. Video, 5:26.

Navarro, Joe. 2015. “Keynote: The Power of Nonverbal Communications.” CMX. YouTube. Nov. 4, 2015. Video, 34:10.

My Comment:

Hi Ryan,

It is interesting to have the conversation with someone who works at the same company!

I am also interested in the factors contributing to how the transition to Zoom/Teams plays out for various individuals.

It makes sense that it was easier to understand him because you already had a relationship with him. It emphasizes the importance of using already gained information in current conversations. Asking questions based on already gained knowledge would be a great way to bond with the speaker even more because it communicates to him that things he said while building rapport were memorable.

Additionally, building rapport before discussing the main topics in a conversation can help get rid of the distractions that come with someone being new. Since you already had a relationship with him, you were not caught up in forming first impressions, and I can imagine it made it easier to not constantly evaluate his remarks.

I also see your patience as an important component that helped you understand everything he discussed as it made it so you did not decide what he was saying before he was finished.