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Power Up! Listening Skills for the 21st Century

    Listening at work   Listening Programs   Effective listening   Listening tools and programs  
 
 
Listening at Work
Good listening 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 listen."

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 talk.

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 refine it.

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 now by: