Listening – Really Listening!

In today’s world of smart phones, tablets, instant messaging and 24/7 access to information, almost everyone is glued to their device of choice. Technology has shrunken physical distances and connected people to each other worldwide.

Yet, people have become impatient with short attention spans. They often miss key information as they get easily distracted. Way back in 1957, researchers found that listeners only remembered about half of what they’d heard immediately after someone finished talking!

  • 85% of what we know, we have learned through listening.
  • Human beings generally listen at a 25% comprehension rate.
  • In a typical business day, people spend :
  • 45% of their time listening,
  • 30% of their time talking,
  • 16% reading and
  • 9% writing.

The dramatic strides we have made in information-management efficiency and effectiveness suggest a promising future. But our listening practices in comparison are rooted in the past. In fact, the quality and efficiency of conversational listening have been seriously diminished.

Email has become the easy and quick way to communicate, share info, make requests and answer questions. Yet, there is a dark side to the endless flow of emails coming at us. Each of us may have 100 to 300 emails to read, delete, respond to, or act on each day. More disturbing is the fact that to a great extent, emails have replaced conversations.

We simply do not make the time to connect with and maintain solid relationships with people, as we should. This situation can and must be remedied with a quiet mind and a full focus, not thinking what we’ll say, not problem solving in our minds, or even partially thinking of our own to-do list.

Almost everyone sincerely believes that he or she listens effectively.  Consequently, very few people think they need to develop their listening skills.  But, in fact, listening effectively is something that very few of us can do.  It is not because listening effectively is so difficult.  Most of us have just never developed the habits that would make us effective listeners.

Listening is an essential competency for organisations remaining competitive. However, less than 2% of all professionals have had formal education or training to improve listening skills and techniques.

The comments and questions of employees are often given short shrift by the leader in staff meetings. The manager’s lack of skill in questioning and responding produces guarded responses and many problems remain unaddressed in performance appraisals. Poor listening accounts for businesses losing billions of dollars each year to missed communication, misunderstandings and duplication of effort.

Listening is a leadership responsibility that does not appear in the job description. Leaders need to listen to their employees to lead the increasingly diverse and multi-generational workforce.

A business leader needs understanding to motivate and influence his employees. Leaders who are powerful listeners tend to have the most influence over their employees.







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