Posted by: johnocunningham | February 26, 2009

Listening: The Key To Communication

The Value Of Listening

When you think of great communicators, you probably think of great speakers, but truly great communicators are also terrific listeners. They know the value of understanding the other person, and the importance of hearing from the audience to which they speak.

In fact, poor listening not only negates the value of crystal clear communication, it creates misunderstanding, results in misdirected action, and ultimately shuts down feedback and trust.

On the other hand, active and attentive listening not only affirms the value of good messaging, it encourages further communication, greater trust and more teamwork.

John Wooden, the most successful college basketball coach in history, once said that a player’s value to the team was just as dependent on what he does without the ball as with it. That is because there are 10 players on the court, so most players have the ball just one tenth of the time.

A good team player in a business organization knows that listening is a lot like playing without the ball. The speaker may be doing the scoring, but the listener often sets up the speaker for success or failure. Furthermore, a ball-hog talker discourages sharing of ideas, while an unselfish listener encourages teamwork and trust.

Organizations spend a lot of money on internal messaging and external PR, but most invest sparingly in “active listening” programs, which are badly needed in an age of excessive self-absorption and noisy distractions.

For more on active listening, check out: “The Zen of Listening” by Rebecca Shafir.


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