Of all the skills we’re taught at school, I’ve often wondered why active listening isn’t one of them.

Especially when you consider that research shows we spend up to 80% of our day engaged in communication with others.

Of this, 55% of our time is spent listening.

Automatic vs. Intentional

Unlike hearing, which is an automatic function of the body, listening properly is an active choice. It requires concentration and effort to properly process, interpret, evaluate and understand the words and subtext conveyed by the speaker.

But as Stephen Covey explains “most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” This isn’t really listening – it is simply waiting for your turn to speak.

Choose to actively listen

Active listening is a communication technique that has been designed to help deepen the understanding between speaker and listener. In doing so, we:

  • Learn, understand, retain, store and retrieve far more information
  • Improving our ability to influence, persuade and negotiate with others
  • And ultimately communicate in a way that connects more meaningfully with others…

…making it the most valuable communication skill a leader can develop.

By intentionally listening to understand, you will learn more about the unique points of view; hopes, dreams, wants, needs and frustrations of your team, customers and peers.

Armed with these insights, you will be able to communicate in a far more compassionate and more empathetic manner, so you resonate and connect with each of your key stakeholders.

Do you struggle to listen? Check out these 5 steps to active listening!