Listening Skills to Improve Your Relationships and Business Performance



What counts in communication? Listening skills for discernment and trust. Discerning people are the most successful and listening skills are important for discernment.

So if you’re in management but don’t listen, you’re not discerning in human resources and not viewed as trustworthy. As a result, you’ll harm employees’ morale and risk losing them.

If you’re in sports, your team can’t possibly win unless there’s teamwork from every player listening to the team coach, captain or quarterback.

Mergers & AcquisitionsIf you’re in sales and don’t listen, you’ll lose prospective customers.

Top salespeople listen 80 to 90 percent in every customer interaction, which enables them to be discerning to make the best recommendations.

Even longtime customers won’t put up with it. You’re guaranteed to lose them once they have as many as five unfortunate experiences with your company.

Customers leave 70 percent of the time because they feel taken for granted.

In my experience as a corporate trainer, every time I ask women to name their No.1 complaint about men, I get just one answer: “They don’t listen.” It never fails.

But it’s not just men who don’t listen. Both men and women are often guilty of not listening because they’re task-oriented.

When approached by employees and coworkers, they keep on writing or reading without paying close-enough attention to what’s being said.

This also means they miss important signals – what’s not being said – otherwise, known as reading between the lines.

The author of “Just Listen,” Mark Goulston, Ph.d., (markgoulston.com) is a clinical psychiatrist, who says there are four Rs that people listen. Some are productive and some aren’t.

Discerning people are the most successful and listening skills are important for discernment.

From published reports, here are his four Rs of listening:

1. Removed listening

A removed listener doesn’t really listen when multi-tasking.

“If you’re foolish enough to be glib and parrot back the words the other person said just to show that you were listening, that’s not going to win friends and influence people,” said Dr. Goulston said.

2. Reactive listening

Even more annoying is the reactive listener. They react instead of responding. Someone who responds will think about what to say before saying it. They’ll think about what to do before they do it.

 “You take issue with everything the other person says. There is no such thing as a dialogue in your conversations,” he observed. “They immediately become a debate.”

3. Responsible listening

A responsible listener will hear the words and respond appropriately. People commonly do it. It works well, but it’s not the highest form of listening.

4. Receptive listening

The highest form of listening occurs when we demonstrate the deepest type of listening – by responding with kindness after reading between the lines.

As a scenario, he suggests when a friend survives a rainfall and arrives drenched at your residence. The friend mentions she’s soaked.

A receptive listener will respond:  “Yes, you’re all wet from the rain…You must be freezing. Let me take your wet coat and make you a cup of tea to warm you up.”

From the Coach’s Corner, more tips related to communication and listening skills:

How New Managers Can Win as Great Communicators — Poor communication results in managerial dysfunction and vice versa. That often happens because a significant number of workers is mistakenly promoted into management. You’ve heard of The Peter Principle, right? That’s when people rise to their level of incompetence.

The late University of Southern California professor and author Laurence J. Peter also theorized about what he called “percussive sublimation.”

Secrets in Motivating Employees to Offer Profitable Ideas — Savvy employers know how to profit from their human capital. Such knowledge is a powerful weapon for high performance in a competitive marketplace. Furthermore, there’s a correlation among excellent sales, happy customers, and high employee morale.

Proverbially speaking, employees are where the tire meets the road. They daily experience firsthand a wide variety of problems – including dysfunction from vendors, shortcomings of software, aggravations of customers, poor intra-company communication and dangers facing your company.

18 Tips for Productive Behavior to Win in Office Politics — Most people troubled by office politics are too focused on the behavior of their adversaries. Stop giving away your personal power. Don’t think or act like a victim. Office politics aren’t fun.

Ironically, one of the most entertaining TV shows that’s all about office politics is “Suits.” It’s a fun, engaging and thrilling legal drama on the USA Network. Gabriel Macht plays the role of New York City corporate attorney Harvey Specter, who will do almost anything to win a case.

The 22 Dos and Don’ts for Successful Negotiations — No matter what you need to negotiate, there are easy strategies to get anything you want. But you must first remember it’s important to reach a fair compromise – with win-win negotiating skills.

You’ll want both parties to feel positive after the negotiation is complete. In other words, emotional needs for both of you have to be met.

Discouraged in Job Hunting? Powerful Tips for the Best Job — Few things in life are as shattering to an unemployed person’s self-esteem as the inability to draw a paycheck. In this downturn, good jobs can be difficult to get. And most job seekers are weary from their character-building trials. Under-employment is another result of this economy.

Whether unemployed or under-employed, a person needs two things: A sense of hope and the right tools to negotiate a job. More than 100 years ago, Oscar Wilde wrote: “What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.”

“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.”

-Bernard Baruch


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.