Listening _ an Indispensable Tool for Career Advancement

By Belt, Joy Reed | THE JOURNAL RECORD, January 29, 1992 | Go to article overview

Listening _ an Indispensable Tool for Career Advancement


Belt, Joy Reed, THE JOURNAL RECORD


Employees spend about 75 percent of each day in verbal communication, and 45 percent of this time is spent listening.

Unfortunately, mistakes made because of poor listening skills cost businesses thousands of dollars each year.

This can be attributed partly to the fact that education in communication is focused primarily on learning how to read, write and talk.

Students are not offered instruction on how to become good listeners.

The writer Gertrude Stein made an astute observation about this dilemma: "Everyone, when they are young, has a little bit of genius; that is, they really do listen. . . .Then they grow a little older and many of them get tired and listen less and less. But some, a very few, continue to listen. And finally they get very old and they do not listen anymore. That is very sad." Listening well takes hard work and practice, but everyone can learn.

It is an indispensable tool for career advancement.

The most common mistakes made by poor listeners are that they are distracted by other problems and ideas, they don't like the person who is speaking, they consider the topic unimportant, or they have a tendency to hear only what they want to hear.

Listening is not a passive activity, and aggressive techniques that work must be developed in order to become a more skilled listener. Consider these strategies for improving listening ability:

Be aware that ego and the inability to give equal attention to another person are obstacles to effective listening.

Determine if you are not listening by asking silently: "Can I repeat, rephrase or clarify what has just been said?" Strive for enthusiasm by keeping alert, smiling and maintaining eye contact with the person speaking.

Carefully listen for the ideas and emotions of the speaker and not just the facts.

Passionate listening is one of the greatest compliments and acts of respect one person can give another. On a social level, it wins friends, and in the business milieu, it influences people.

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