Are Your Listening Skills Keeping You from the Success You Desire?

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Most people are egocentric, which leads to poor listening. How often do you ask people to repeat themselves? The problem is not getting people to talk; it’s getting them to listen. We have all kinds of communication training, yet little on listening well. Poor listening starts from bad habits. You can become a better listener. Most individuals use only 25 percent of their inherent ability to listen because they haven’t been trained to listen well.

Psychologist Carl Rogers summarizes the problem: “Man’s inability to communicate is the result of his failure to listen effectively, skillfully and with understanding to another person.”

Steven Covey says it this way: “Seek first to understand, then be understood.”

There are also numerous distractions and barriers to good listening. Except for breathing, we listen more than any other human activity. Yet, listening is the most neglected, least understood of communication arts. In the world of business and sales, nearly 60 percent of misunderstanding has been traced to poor listening. Being an effective salesman is practically impossible for the person who can’t listen.

So, how can you improve your listening skills and increase your business?

Real communication occurs only when we listen with understanding. The objective of communication is to understand others, to be understood, and to get action. Obviously, if we do not understand others, we cannot effectively lead them.

You can only understand others by paying attention and listening. Listening is hard work. We listen, but we don’t really hear. We hear, but we don’t really listen. Communication requires participation. It’s the most complicated thing that we do because of the interference from emotion, bias, personality traits, and distractions. 

A leader and salesperson’s job is to get things done collaboratively; most of his or her time is spent listening. Communication requires participation.

An effective leader must make space for feedback. Thus, there is no real communication in business, in the home, or anywhere else unless all parties listen, hear, and understand.

Training is the answer. You can learn and practice better listening skills. The key to better listening is you.

Make it your goal to be a better listener. Desire for improvement is essential. Work on becoming a person genuinely interested in understanding others and seeing other perspectives. Human understanding depends on effective communication and effective listening.

Psychologists tell us that appreciation is a basic human need. Listening is one of the best forms of appreciation that we can offer another person. By listening well and fully engaging with others, we assure understanding. Understanding fosters respect and motivation. Listening to others, therefore, is one of the great non-financial motivators. 

From this kind of human motivation, managers can expect increased productivity for themselves as well as those within their influence. Utilize your time more productively by taking the time to listen and understand others. It may take some time and practice — and maybe some humility — but in the long run, it will pay dividends in your personal and professional life. 

If you struggle with these skills or other leadership areas, we can help. Check out more business lessons at Achievement Unlimited or reach out directly to

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