The little girl and the 4 keys for active listening

The opinions of the employees of You are personal.

His name is Momo and his superpower, Listen to others. This may seem simple, but it really isn’t.

The little girl and the 4 keys for active listening
The little girl and the 4 keys for active listening

Because we rarely listen today.

We speak, give opinions, publish and interact in real time with hundreds of publications on various digital platforms. We scream, we laugh out loud, we get excited and we grab the word to express our opinion. We exchange photos, videos and ideas for Likes. But we don’t listen.

Her name is Momo, and I remembered her in the middle of a job meeting while watching the marketing director of a large company try to explain the reason for his decisions to the owner.

His efforts were useless.

Every word, every argument was rejected by the other individual who, from a position of power, imposed his vision without even being ready to analyze the meaning behind the other’s words.

The scene (observed from the ditch of an outside provider without belonging to the organization) shocked me because I saw in it the living reflection of a work dynamic that I had to experience firsthand a long time ago.

I was the one who then tried to communicate the reasons for my initiatives; the one who was desperate when he realized that there was really no fight as all the decisions had already been made. Me, the one whose voice wouldn’t be heard.

I remembered my frustration with the inequality an org chart can convey. As I watched her, it made me wonder how different the situation would be if the business owner just took the time to really listen to their co-worker. Perhaps the result would be the same, but not the feeling of helplessness that arises from the depths of our guts when we know we weren’t even heard.

That’s why I remembered Momo.

He Children’s book, edited by the German writer Michael Ende In 1973 he recounts the adventures of another and special little girl whose greatest quality is listening to others:

“Momo knew how to listen in such a way that stupid people suddenly have very bright ideas. Not because he said or asked something that would make others ponder these ideas, no; He was just there, listening with all of his attention and compassion. In the meantime he looked at the other with his big black eyes and the other noticed immediately how he thought of thoughts that he would never have believed were in him.

“He knew how to listen in such a way that confused or indecisive people suddenly knew very well what he wanted. Or the shy one suddenly felt very free and courageous. Or the wretched and burdened became self-confident and happy … “

In Michael Ende’s vision it is the attention that Momo pays his interlocutors to the place where the power of creation and reconciliation seems to lie. By staying silent, without giving an opinion or judgment, the little girl leads to a transformation of the other person who individually comes to conclusions that she could never have imagined. The child doesn’t have to say anything: sometimes you just need to know how to listen to help others.

Nothing could be further from the idea guide some of us seem to have that today. We feel compelled to respond when others speak. Without realizing it, we give our opinion beforehand and silence the other’s voice so that our timbre is the predominant one. We believe that as bosses we have the absolute truth, and believe that leadership means aligning the entire company with our point of view. When things don’t go as we expect, we despair and sometimes don’t even give our team the opportunity to express their vision.

In short, we speak even when they don’t even ask us and we don’t realize that knowing how to listen is one of the real characteristics of leadership. What to do to develop little momo’s ability


In 1957 the psychologists Carl Rogers and Richard E. Farson published an article in which they discussed this Active listening ((Active listening), a technique Rogers developed during various therapy sessions. The doctor did not know what to say about the confused words and thoughts of his patients and just listened carefully. Little by little he realized that this act of silence to listen to the other triggered a profound change in his patients: when they felt that someone was paying attention to their ideas, they themselves listened to his voice and seemed to feel his feelings, Assimilate complexes and emotions, which also leads to an increase in their self-esteem.

From this text the term Active Listening became popular and a subject of study (today it is taught in some of the most prestigious universities in the world).

Some of the keys Rogers gives in his text to actively learn to listen are:

1. Be there. Not only physically, in the same room as our interlocutor, but also emotionally. Being there gives us the time to really listen to the other. To pay attention to it, to look at it, to feel it, to watch it, to respond to its comments with empathy. It’s about fostering an atmosphere of mutual trust in which he feels that this is important to us.

2. Get rid of distractions. One of the major challenges in today’s world is avoiding distractions. One tone from our cell phone, a small flash of lightning on one of our multiple screens, is enough to feel the fear of checking the news, going somewhere else, abstracting ourselves in order to turn back to ourselves: our earrings, our ideas, our reality . Do not do it. If you want to actively listen, the person and talking to them should be your priority. One look at your phone, watch, or computer (even if you say you’re listening) communicates only one thing: your ears and head are elsewhere.

3. Enter characters that you understand. You do not have to say anything. There will be time for it. Just devote yourself to taking in all the information you can. Pay attention to the tone of the other’s voice. His gestures, the way he breathes, the movements of his hands and eyes. Respond with small signals. Nod if you think you have to. Our silence can convey indifference or absolute empathy, whatever you want when you want to actively listen.

4. Repeat what you just heard. In front When asking for a word, make sure you understand what the other just said to you. If not, let me explain again. Give yourself as much time as you need to decipher your message. To make it to you, to understand it and only then to express what you see, what you feel. To really speak and understand that there is a redeeming and beautiful power in silence that also makes us listen to ourselves.

A silence that could save the world from the most terrible threats. The same silence that enabled small and quiet Momo to face these relentless gray beings who had stolen time to make people happy. But that is another story contained in the words of this wondrous book that we have stopped reading with so much ado in our lives.

Maybe it is time to be silent to hear his words again.

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