Many experts believe that we retain only about 20% of what we hear. Listening becomes a real challenge, then, if we are trying to relate to others effectively or trying to do our job well. The average person can think four times faster than they talk or hear another person talking; this gives the individual 45 seconds in every minute for their mind to drift off and think about anything other than what the other person is saying.
Listening skills are a vital part of the oral communication process. As an active and attentive listener, you learn to hear what people are really saying. Good listening requires energy; we hear the speaker, we select information, we interpret information, and we respond in just a few seconds.
Working at being a good listener is just as important as making your ideas understandable to others. Most of us think of listening as a passive activity where we take in information sent by others. But active listeners are good at concentrating on the communication process (their own process and that of the other person). Active listeners are simply good concentrators.
Everyone understands the importance of good listening. At work, listening is important to our performance and the quality of our efforts. If we fail to hear instructions correctly, mistakes can cost time and money. If we fail to listen to clients’ complaints, our organization will lose business. Like skills for any other competency, listening skills need to be practiced in order to be mastered.
This Listening Effectiveness assessment will help you understand more about your relative listening skills. Research has shown that there are seven competency areas that contribute to good (or bad) listening:
Predisposition/Temperament is different from the other six because it has an impact on all the other categories: an individual commitment to want to listen and a belief that listening is critically important are directly related to Predisposition/Temperament. When you become an effective listener, your personal relationships will improve, more prospects will ask to become your customers, and your leaders will find ways to promote and reward you!