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Something for You to Begin For the New Year…The Art of Better Listening

Skilled speaking is one of the many attributes a business owner needs to have (or acquire). We speak to customers, investors, co-workers, among many others. Communication is key to relaying what we need and want or have to offer. What some don’t realize, however, is how much more important it is to be a good listener. There are many benefits to being “audibly attentive” to others.

I’ve heard that the people others found most interesting, were not talkers, but good listeners. I think you’d agree that everyone wants to be heard… to feel significant. Think about some of the people you’ve encountered personally, let’s say, at a party. When you left the party, who was the individual that stood out to you? Someone that you wouldn’t mind being in the company of again. Likely, it wasn’t the completely silent one, nor was it the person that didn’t let you get a word in edgewise. Likely, you were drawn to the person that paid attention to what you had to say. They seemed to have interest in what you had to say. Of course, this doesn’t imply one shouldn’t speak at all. Conversations would be quite boring if all we did was sit and nod.

An overlooked benefit of listening intently, especially in business, is finding out a need or interest. When we have this information, we know what we may need to improve on and what is working. It’s possible you could get your next big idea from hearing what others are have to say. Perhaps a new product or another way to run your business will come from your listening skills. Keep an open mind.

Being a good listener also saves time. If you’ve ever been in a situation where instructions were a requirement, you know what I mean. And who of us haven’t been in that position? In that situation, if you weren’t paying attention, you had to redo said project. Backtracking is an enormous waste of time and can be frustrating.

When we listen closely to others, it allows us to empathize with them. It gives us a better understanding of what they are thinking or feeling. This only endears them to you and makes them want to do business with you.

Listening to what people say to and about us, allows us to improve ourselves.  Things people have said to (and about) me, albeit in jest and usually in a light-hearted nature, that made me re-evaluate myself. It’s not always easy to hear what some folks have to say. None of us like to see the “less than awesome” things about ourselves. But life is ever evolving and we need to be too.

Furthermore, listening can also stir up some good questions. And questions lead to more feedback that can be useful to you. That’s not all; questions also go back to my earlier thoughts about people finding good listeners interesting. When you pose questions to the one you’re listening to, it shows your genuine interest in them.

Years ago, I heard a quote by Greek philosopher, Epictetus. I think it sums things up pretty clearly: “You were given two ears and one mouth for a reason.”   Use accordingly.

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