Listening – can we develop this skill??? :)

For years I have been hearing that one of my development opportunities is the listening, for years I have been quite aware that this is something that would make me a better person, before it would make me a better leader.

Why then I could not improve it, why then, despite all efforts I could not work on it enough to feel myself that I, indeed, am a better person?

Today during a very productive meeting, the majority of the colleagues had identified as a major symbol of respect to others – the listening skill – still the majority feels that there is a window of opportunity here.

Coming back home, and looking to my old books, I have found the Harvard Business Review – Effective communication – specifically the first chapter “Listening to People” Ralph G. Nichols & Leonard A Stevens.  WOW!!! HOW TO IMPROVE LISTENING SKILLS, AND THE SCIENCE BEHIND IT – AS SIMPLE AS THIS;

We learn how to read, but we do not learn how to listen, not in schools… and yet, this is the most important way to learn, to teach and to make yourself a good leader. LISTENING IS A SKILL THAT ONE CAN BE TAUGHT.

2 basics for listening improvement:

1) Understand the factors that affects your listening

2) Build the experience to create the habits of good listening

🙂  🙂  🙂  🙂  🙂  🙂  🙂  🙂  🙂  🙂  🙂  🙂   🙂   🙂   🙂   🙂   🙂   🙂   🙂   🙂   🙂

1) The factors that affects your listening

1.1) Misuse of the “spare” thinking time while we listen

Our brain has capacity to process around 200 – 300 words per minute while thinking; the average rate of speech is around 125 words per minute.

While one talks 125 words per minute, the listener processes these 125 words and have a space of around other 100 to 200 words more to think…. If you are talking to your boss or to your husband, normally you are using this space to prepare what you want to talk next, mostly trying to deliver an idea, sometimes making you to interrupt at the moment you think that you should comment…

A good listener fills this time differently…

Well, we already know now that we must fill this space wiser… Be a better listener lesson 1 – use correctly the spare thinking space of your mind!

…creating habits to fill the spare space of our mind;

I. The listener tries to think ahead of the talker, trying to have the anticipation of what the conclusion would be, but at the talkers point of view – assure that has understood correctly!

II. Weighting the evidence the talker is using – check how the talker is using the evidence to support the points being made

III. Uses the spare space to to review and mentally summarizes the points of the talk

IV. Pays attention to the non verbal language, face, body language and try to see if there are more than the words, to be able to ask the right questions to get the talkers message fully, even what he/she is not telling

1.2. Listening to facts instead of ideas – another factor of distraction

Normally the talker wants to transmit an idea, not facts, the facts are just a road which helps to reach the final destination. The good listener can rebuild the facts, use other facts to confirm the idea that the talker is trying to deliver. 

This is probably the easier listening skills to be learnt!

1.3. Emotional Filters – other factor of “distraction:

Listening ability is affected, in different degrees and different ways, by our emotions. We listen easily to what we believe and what we like to hear at the way that we reject, whatever is against what we believe…

A good listener identifies these moments and behave differently from the “first reaction”… … and just listen the talker…

….how to do this, hoe to develop this skill?

I. Withhold evaluation;

 This is one of the most important principles of learning. It requires self-control. While listening, the main objective should be to comprehend each point made by the talker. Judgments and decisions should be reserved until after the talker has finished.

II. Hunting evidence, all of them…

When we listen, it is human to go on a militant search for evidence which proves us right in what we believe. If we made our minds to seek out the ideas that might prove us wrong, as well as those that might prove us right, we are less in danger of missing what people have to say…

🙂 Finally I have realized that the first time this article was published was 1957… How such an “old” teaching can be so helpful and truth even now…

This is millennium knowledge, meaning that this is something that we should have known…  Something I should have worked on, at least to “payback the wonderful listener my husband is… …and now I will do for my whole family – the private one and the professional one!


Well, this is my individual development challenge and what I am going to focus the next period – those who are close are welcome to support me and give me your feed back – all for a better world, made of better people, starting by myself!!!


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