skills are not only valuable, they are critical in today's competitive
business environment. To ignore the fact that listening skills are
essential is to risk costly errors, wasted time, ineffective teamwork,
unsatisfactory service and misunderstandings at all levels - all of
which affect your bottom line.
As the old saying goes, "It pays to
Yet listening is often at the lowest point of the hierarchy of
communication skills taught at the work place. Why? Because most
people assume they know how to listen, even when there is strong
evidence to the contrary.
Most of us acquire far more training in reading, writing, and speaking
- even though we spend far more time listening. A study by Wolvin
& Coakley in 1991 found that most experts agree that people
spend about 9% of waking hours writing, 15% reading, 30% speaking,
and 45% listening. For executives, studies show that time spent
listening is even higher-55% or more on the average each day.
More than 35 general business studies conducted
over the past 35 years confirm that listening-centered communication
improves results. The studies demonstrate that:
- Schools devote too little direct instruction
in to listening as part of their language arts curricula even
though it is a basic skill required of all employees in the workplace.
(U.S. Dept. of Labor, What Work Requires
of Schools (1991)
- Ineffective listening throughout organizational
structures results in low morale, high absenteeism and turnover,
low productivity, lack of upward communication, and ineffective
horizontal communication. (Brownell, 1994)
- Employee listening ability has a definite impact
on their productivity. (Papa & Glen, 1988)
- 46% of those who quit their jobs did so because
they felt not listened to and were therefore unappreciated. (U.S.
Department of Labor, 1999)
- Effective listening is a skill that needs to
be developed as a prerequisite for successful practice of the
more 'active' skills of speaking and writing. (Goby & Lewis,
Nanyang Technological University, 2003)
Most of us think that because we can hear, we know how
to listen. But --listening and hearing are not the same. Most of
us easily take in other people's words, but the truth is that we
find it nearly impossible to turn off the talking inside of our
own heads, to avoid the temptation to interrupt, or to remain present
and available to the conversation as it unfolds.
A good listener is dynamically engaged, is speaking
as well as listening. When we are actively engaged in the whole
conversation, we are not just waiting passively for our time to
Because the listening process is dynamic and complex,
it involves attention and presence at many levels. The good listener
understands this complexity and works continually to clarify and
Attitude is key and the payoff is rich. David Stauffer,
writing in the Harvard Management Update,
cites studies showing that the simple realization that one can learn
to listen better can cause the average person to improve listening
skills by as much as 50%.
We at HighGain® have just the tools
and methods to get you started. We look forward to helping your
organization improve its competitive edge. Start