Category: Business, Leadership and coaching
Publication date: June 29, 2021
Extent: 232 pages

The Listening Shift

Transform your organization by listening to your people and helping your people listen to you

Janie van Hool



As a leader, you work hard at crafting effective messages. You aim to influence, persuade, present. You have a voice, you have a platform… but is anyone listening?

The reality is that the people you’re talking to are distracted. They’re listening at a rate of 125–250 words per minute, but they’re thinking at 1,000–3,000 words per minute. That gap means they’re likely to miss 75% of what you say.

And guess what? It’s the same when it’s your turn to listen. What are you missing? At the very least, if your people don’t feel heard or understood by managers and leaders, trust is eroded, frustration increases and engagement is reduced.

You need to listen and be heard…but most of us have never learned how.

The Listening Shift will show you how to be a listening leader. Find out:

  • why listening matters
  • how to engage people across your organisation by listening
  • how to have listening conversations – collaborative, connecting and inclusive
  • how to help others listen to you.

Janie van Hool is an expert leadership advisor in the art of communication. In the last 20 years, her practical, accessible solutions-focused approach to communicating has allowed hundreds of leaders to engage, inspire and influence their listeners.


Not known for my listening skills, as a small business owner I have found the insight and clear direction provided in this book to have transformed the effectiveness of communications at all levels within my company. A priceless gem of a read!


This is a fabulous book full of richness and invaluable insight and experience, from a leading practitioner in her field. It is practical as well as provoking food for thought and reflection. I highly recommend it to anyone serious about building effective strategies and teams.


A ‘must-read’ listening toolkit
The art and skill of listening often flies under the radar with communication, but this accessible, readable book shines a light on the practice offering relevant, practical ‘how-tos’ and ‘try this out’. Its an inspiring and surprisingly moving read, and I found myself highlighting quotes, questions and check-ins all the way through. Oh yes, I can practice that! recommend that! try that out…
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to improve their communication skills – structuring a presentation and communication from the listener’s perspective is worth the cover price in itself. I’ve already got a wealth different exercises I can use with clients – and on myself! – and I can see its going to be a book I return to often and regularly gift to others.


A great book that delves deep not only on how to be a better listener, but also, importantly, how to help your audience listen better to your message, and stories.
There are real life examples throughout the book of people who listen for a living. And lots of great examples from the authors extensive experience.
I recommend this book if you are looking to make a greater impact in people’s lives.


This book was recommended to me by a friend, even though I don’t work in business or as part of a team, because they thought I’d be interested in the elements that are relevant to a more general reader. And they were so right.
It’s a really generous and warm-hearted book: clear, well-written, easy to read and full of insights and practical suggestions. And written by someone who clearly knows her stuff and knows how to communicate it to the reader. I would say it’s an invaluable read for anyone who is interested in improving their listening – and therefore communication – skills in their interactions with friends, family, colleagues and the world in general. A wonderful book.


Intelligent and insightful this book is an absolute game changer. It seems obvious but if you want to be a good communicator you HAVE to be a good listener – and this book shows you how. Engaging and at times moving, it shows compellingly just how important real listening is in any situation. The skills to be a good listener may take practice but they are not difficult to acquire. So, whether for work (essential) or if only to improve your relationships at home (still essential), take the time to read this. Well worth the effort and long overdue.


…As Van Hool explains ‘A listening culture where people listen and feel listened to will make your business more successful – and who wouldn’t want that?’ Hear, hear.

Business & Management


Table of Contents


A high-profile business leader – currently to be agreed, but potential names include Dame Carolyn McCall, Richard Hytner and the new CEO (to be confirmed) of Samaritans, among others.


My journey as a listener…how it’s been shaped in the worlds of theatre, business and charity volunteering and what that insight offers to leaders.

Note to Reader:

How to ‘listen’ to this book (there will be suggested recordings to start each chapter as a ‘setting the scene’ listening exercise)


1. Get Your Shift Together – Why Listen?

– What’s the problem?

– The business of listening (environmental factors)

– What’s possible if you make the shift?

– What’s the process needed to achieve results

2. Shift work – How to Listen to Your Organisation

– The Listening Audit

– Listening Modalities

– Running listening meetings

– Managing Your Presentations

– Listening virtually

3. ‘You’ve got shift to do!’ – How to Listen to Your People

– Managing your impact as a listener

– Setting your intention

– Empathy mapping

– A listening methodology to live by

– Inclusion and the big conversations

– Timed reviews – how to keep getting better

4. Give a Shift – Helping Your Listeners Listen to you

– The music of talking (Voice, language and metaphor)

– Learning to dance (proxemics, body language and what happens online)

– How to structure your communication for easy listening

– The story behind the story – emotional engagement and why it matters

– Timing

5. Shift Happens– What to Expect

– How to communicate with discipline and practice

– Connecting and disconnecting rituals

– Dealing with what you hear

– A vision for the future

End Matter:

Further resources – workshops, coaching support, listening audit.



Audiobook / 9781788604420 / June 30, 2023 / £12.99

Paperback / 9781788602570 / June 29, 2021 / £12.99

Ebook / 9781788602563 / June 28, 2021 / £7.99

Paperback and eBook Bundle / £14.99


Janie van Hool

Janie van Hool understands both speaking and listening profoundly. She began her career as a professional actor, training at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art before embarking on 12 years of work in the theatre, in TV, as a voiceover artist and conference presenter.

She went on to gain an MA in Voice and then an MSc in Performance Psychology. The combination of her academic research together with her experience as a performer has given her a unique perspective on how to articulate messages with confidence and skill, and informed her work as a coach, advisor and skills teacher to business leaders.

Over the last 20 years she has developed leaders in a wide range of organizations, from mining in Australia to investment banking in New York and everything in between. She has crafted tactics, strategies, frameworks and tools to enable leaders to inspire others through impact, influence, presentation, storytelling and connection. Her fascination with how people communicate has helped countless leaders make a difference to themselves personally, and to the people they lead.

More recently she has volunteered as a listener with Samaritans – a UK charity dedicated to listening to people in distress. This has helped her complete the circle of communication insights that have been her life’s work, by recognizing fully the incredible power of being heard.

Her first book – The Impact and Presence Pocketbook – was published in 2004.’