It's True! Listening Is a Primary Way To Develop Relationships
We often take listening for granted because we assume it’s the same as hearing—instinctive. As a result, we make little effort to learn or develop listening skills and unknowingly neglect a crucial communication function. Its importance is striking.
Listening is one of the most important communication skills that we can acquire because it’s the primary way that we develop relationships, understand others, and learn valuable, often vital information.
Communication experts Carl Rogers and Richard Farson offer this insight:
The first reaction of most people when they consider listening as a possible method for effectively dealing with people is that listening cannot be sufficient in itself. Because it’s passive, they feel listening does not communicate anything to the speaker. Actually, nothing could be farther from the truth.
By consistently listening to a person, you are conveying the idea that “I’m interested in you as a person, and I think that what you feel is important. I respect your thoughts, and even if I don’t agree with them, I know that they are valid for you. I feel sure that you have a contribution to make. I’m not trying to change you or evaluate you. I just want to understand you. I think you’re worth listening to, and I want you to know that I’m the kind of a person you can talk to.”
While it is most difficult to convince someone that you respect him by telling him so, you are much more likely to get this message across by really behaving that way—by actually having and demonstrating respect for this person. Listening does this most effectively.
"LISTENING INVOLVES A MORE SOPHISTICATED MENTAL PROCESS THAN HEARING.
IT DEMANDS ENERGY AND DISCIPLINE.
LISTENING IS A LEARNED SKILL.”
Let's look at listening in a coaching context.
A recent study of Fortune 100 executives by the Manchester Consulting Group in Economic Times reported that those who started employing professional coaching skills for people management had these returns:
- An improved bottom line—resulting in an ROI of almost six times the program cost
- Improvement in relationships (77%)
- Improvement in teamwork (67%)
- Improvement in job satisfaction (61%)
- Improvement in quality (48%)
As as business consultant and leadership coach it is imperative that I'm consistently assessing what I'm communicating:
- I'm interested in what you are saying
- I value your perspective
- What you are saying is important
Next, I must ask myself:
- Am I intentionally engaged, present in the moment, and fully focused on the conversation?
- Do I completely tune out distractions?
- Do I listen beyond the facts to connect with the person’s experience, interpreting the meaning behind the words?
- Does my listening communicate that I'm trustworthy?
EVERYTHING OF VALUE IS BUILT ON TRUST, FROM FINANCIAL SYSTEMS TO RELATIONSHIPS.
— Dave Horsager
Strike this phrase from your vocabulary: "I've arrived and mastered listening skills." Diversity of needs and people, our own biases, and skills that become dull if not kept sharpened are reasons not to settle in and become comfortable in your listening skills.
Check out a next step that you can take to move into advanced listening and create more trusting, collaborative, and innovative conversations.
For additional reading on listening check out my blog: What is the Most Important Communication Skill to Acquire?
Mary is a business and leadership consultant who works with organizations to establish a culture of synergistic teams, systems and processes for greater employee engagement, employee loyalty, and communication effectiveness. She trains leaders to maximize leadership competencies, develop greater agility, achieve and sustain leadership influence.
Mary is President and Cofounder of the Center for Coaching Excellence, a distinctive training organization that focuses on developing highly competent coaches through a mentor-training approach and a training model of coaching that easily transitions into professional and personal conversations. Mary continues to expanded coaching into diverse industries by developing customized coach training used in companies such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, and MJ Senior Housing.