The Five Purposes of Listening

The most neglected work of leadership is listening. The reason? It’s hard work.

If leadership is about others, listening is about leadership.

4 reasons you hate to listen:

  1. A squirrel’s attention span. Busy leaders look like squirrels caught in traffic.
  2. Dripping faucets. Nagging issues drip in the back of your mind. But if you listened more, maybe there would be fewer nagging issues.
  3. A Grinch heart. It’s hard to listen when your heart is three sizes too small. Listening is caring.
  4. Dragster ears. Ears are about 4X faster than tongues. You can’t wait for the other person to finally get to the point.

Think of listening as an Olympic event. The only way to get the Gold is to go all-in today.

The 5 Purposes of listening:

#1. Mattering. Listen to let others know they matter.

People who feel they matter courageously work to make a difference. Those who feel they don’t matter go through the motions.

  1. What’s important?
  2. What are their hopes or fears?
  3. What do they really want?

You infuse value into others when you attend to their words.

#2. Humility. Listen to humble yourself.

Arrogance talks. Humility listens.

No one can humble you. You must humble yourself. One way to practice humility is to let another speak their mind.

Listening elevates others.

#3. Clarity. Listen to help others find clarity.

Provide opportunity for people to hear their own voice. Those who hear their own voice learn what they really think.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Stephen R. Covey

#4. Effectiveness. Listen to act effectively.

It’s a waste of energy to solve the wrong problem.

Listen in order to do the right stuff.  

#5. Curiosity. Listen to ask a question.


What is the purpose of listening?

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your listening? What might help you become a better listener?