The reason we have two ears and only one mouth is that we need to listen more and speak less
This pearl of wisdom attributed to Zeno of Cizio is quite well known but scarcely applied because listening is still an undervalued skill. A study by the Academy of Management showed that while 78% of accredited business schools list ‘presentation’ as a learning objective, only 11% mention ‘listening’.
Listening is an important value in the business world and in today’s increasingly digital age, it is something that can make all the difference in building strong relationships and creating a successful team.
5 good tips to improve listening
1. Stay focused
Listening requires your full attention, avoid distracting yourself with your mobile phone or email. Make sure you understand the other person without thinking in advance about what to reply, even if your thoughts travel four times faster than words.
2. Notice non-verbal signals
A good listener also picks up on non-verbal cues such as tone of voice, facial expression and body language. They are valuable because they express the motivation and emotions behind the words.
3. Don’t interrupt
It may happen that you already have the solution to a problem they are telling you, but still let them complete their speech: it is a sign of respect and consideration.
4. Ask the right questions
Go beyond the basic yes/no questions and try to get to the heart of the matter and elaborate on the where, why and how. Your interlocutor will then feel more considered and misunderstandings will be avoided.
5. Focus on empathy
Listening well is an act of empathy. Try to understand the other person’s point of view without prejudice. By using your emotional intelligence, you can help your interlocutor, even the most introverted, to feel understood and this will create a stronger bond between you.
The benefits of listening at work
1. Builds lasting relationships
Understanding and being understood is key to building trust. A study published in the Journal of Knowledge Management found that there is a significant relationship between trust and communication. If team members trust each other, they are more likely to share knowledge and communicate openly.
2. Increases productivity
Giving importance to employees’ opinions and ideas is vital to create a healthy and collaborative working environment. Employees feel valued and this contributes to improved morale and productivity.
3. Resolves conflicts
Listening helps us recognise the perspectives of others and helps us respect and appreciate them. In case of misunderstandings, listening and effective communication are crucial.
4. Encourages involvement
Giving importance to the ideas of others helps to have a more complete view and increases the sense of participation and involvement. This is an important value when you consider that a recent Gallup study showed that only 15% of workers worldwide feel involved and therefore work with commitment and enthusiasm.
Focusing on listening means investing in an important value at all levels. Are you a good listener?