Though I can be a poor listener, I value greatly those who do it well.
Listening is a very powerful communication tool – maybe the most powerful. I read a blog post this week by organizational psychologist Dr. Marla Gottschalk that underscored this. You can read it here >>
You must listen to learn. It’s impossible to take in knowledge when you are speaking. Cultivate the ability to listen, and you take on the ability to take in new ideas. I used to have a teacher that described listening as walking around with your cup outstretched, ready to receive more – information, ideas, opinions. And, he added, if you are speaking, you walk around with your cup positioned to pour out. A pouring cup receives nothing.
Listening makes you better in the midst of problems. It is said that “all of us are smarter than one of us.” Solutions have a way of appearing when everyone has a chance to give input. A listener makes sure that everyone has that opportunity.
Finally, it is through that listening that talent appears. There are many different personalities on a team. Some are ready to share. Others take a bit of time and will often remain silent even though they have ideas. People who prefer to hold back usually need to have a very trusting environment before they will venture ideas, suggestions, or solutions. If a leader wants to cultivate trust, he will develop the ability to listen and to draw in others.
Listening is a skill. It is more natural to some than others. If it isn’t natural to you, it’s a skill worth developing.