Whether it is during a conversation, speaking in a meeting, or addressing a group, words can often fall on deaf ears when others are engaged in other activities or simply not listening. While people think they can multitask and remain actively engaged, activities like texting or having a sidebar conversation make listening difficult, if not entirely impossible, resulting in frustration for the speaker.

By contrast, effective listeners can maintain eye contact, their facial expressions announce interest and attention never wavers, and the questions they ask and ability to paraphrase demonstrate an understanding of the conversation.

While many people may not be equipped with the discipline of focusing on the messages of others before inserting their input before the speaker finishes, the good news is that with a little effort and training, they can become active listeners.

Developing the Skill

Unfortunately, listening skills are not a natural part of the humanity package. Listening is a deliberate skill process that must be taught and mastered before considering oneself as an effective listener. Some believe they are a good listener if they can sit through a conversation without interrupting. Recent research supports this misaligned belief, especially when someone is not truly focused on the message of the speaker. Often, they are waiting with a thought in mind, canceling out the true meaning of the communication exchange in progress.

Research shows that listening is critical to improving leadership roles and increasing organizational effectiveness in the workplace. One study found that most people estimate that they listen with 70 to 80 percent accuracy. Becoming a better listener contributes to becoming more compassionate or empathetic for other people’s challenges. To achieve this, one would need patience and training.

Learn more about improving this skill with the March 9 Coffee Talk Professional Development Series event, “Everyone Loves a Good Listener.”  Register today!

How does listening improve leadership?

Leaders empower their team by simply listening to ideas, suggestions, or feedback in hopes to improve team cohesiveness. In fact, the ability to listen impacts every responsibility of a leadership role, helping that leader to develop a foundation rooted in trust. The leader can build and align their team with organizational core values, resolve issues with a greater understanding of how it was initiated, and establish a clear vision and direction.

How does listening improve organizational effectiveness?

Being a part of a team can be difficult if someone is not trained to be a good listener. Taking time to understand another person’s viewpoint is the first step in building effective two-way dialogue where both parties feel included and heard. Listening also helps to set the table for clear exchange of ideas that ignites creativity and innovation, setting the stage for mutual understanding that invites inclusivity and organizational culture.

Five benefits of becoming a good listener include:

  • Establishing trust with others to help build your credibility as an effective listener.
  • Reduced misunderstandings with others who are intentional in lending their attention.
  • Increased innovation improves productivity and meets work goals.
  • Improved team morale increases employee engagement.
  • Improved job performance helps others to feel their contributions are valued.

It is possible to be a good listener and motivate others to do the same by changing the way listening is thought about and practiced. Focusing on improving listening skills goes a long way for overall communication that will help inaugurate effective leadership and organizational effectiveness.

To learn more about the Coffee Talk Professional Development Series, click here to visit our events page for a complete listing of topics.