96% Believe They are Good Listeners and That’s Baloney
Chances are you’re a lousy listener – even though you think you’re good at it.
The problem is, 96% believe they are good listeners according to Accenture. But a Scientific American article states, “… studies show that people wildly overestimate how good they are at listening.” You can emphasize ‘wildly’, if you ask me.
Wouldn’t it be great if people listened to understand you? Wouldn’t it be even greater if you were that person for others?
Speak before listening and you’ll spew nonsense. But a reputation for listening – before you speak – earns respect.
You earn respect with your ears and lose it with your mouth.
You tell people they matter when you listen. People who feel they matter courageously do things that matter.
Being listened-to feels like:
- Permission to think. If you want people to think, listen to what they say.
Take people seriously and they’ll think before they speak.
4 strategic questions for listening like a leader:
Listen to understand people, not simply words.
- What do you wish I understood better?
- What are you glad that I understand about you?
- What would you like me to understand about you?
- You seem …. Is that right? Fill in the blank with an emotion. You seem frustrated. Is that right?
If leadership is about people, listen to understand people.
3 stopping-tips you can implement today:
Sometimes success is about what you stop doing.
- Stop interrupting.
- Stop droning on and on. People go to sleep when you’re boring, irrelevant, or self-absorbed.
- Stop listening to reply. Listen to ask a question.
Skillful leaders show up to listen. But blabber-mouths spew nonsense. “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)
What gets in the way of listening?
How might leaders develop their listening skills?
Quote of the day “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Fantastic. Thanks Dan.
Thanks T. Here’s to taking our listening skills to the next level.
Dan, How true, it is always good to review these principles as it keeps me focused on the simple things that matter the most.
Thanks John. It’s not a matter of knowing how to listen. It’s a matter of actually doing it. 🙂
I can believe 96% of us are good listeners.
In this context…
I hypothesize that not only are we copnfusing hearing with listening, we are rating ourselves on how well we listen when things are important to us. If we can’t see the relevance, it becomes tougher to choose to listen.
I’m guilty of using the “uh-huh” pretend listening technique to get throuigh a story that I can’t find any relevance in. In my mind I have better things to do than passively hear a story I didn’t really even want to hear.
Having said that, to keep depositing in the relationship account (another concpet covered by Covey), I should show interest in the other person even when it wasn’t on my original to do list.
They are telling me a story that they find important, even if I don’t, I should be curious on finding out why they are choosing to tell it to me.
Thanks Nick. Hats off to you for helping to explain why we over-estimate our listening skills. You got me thinking about the reasons we think we excel when we don’t. I’m thinking about blind-spots.
In exploring solutions, I often try to think about the source, as maybe there is a connection there that could help. Mind you my “source” is nothign more than my interpretation of what is happening. Which could totally be way off. (see “ladder of inference” – Chris Argyris, or “Path to action” VitalSmarts simplified version of Chris Argrys’ work)
Your “4 strategic questions for listening like a leader” were my biggest take away. If I was to jump right to a solution for me, those would be the best place to start.
This is such a great topic! It seems to me that learning to listen deeply will bring me knowledge and show the other person their input is valued – it’s win-win. If I avoid preconceived notions and assumptions, refrain from interrupting while I’m trying to understand, and I suspend judgment (at least until I’ve heard and understood the entire point) I might learn a little sumpin-sumpin. 🙂
Thanks Margo. The only time listening deeply won’t help a leader is when we refuse to take action. I suppose it’s possible to just listen and NOT take action, but that isn’t leadership.
Leadership is about getting results THROUGH relationships. Listening is central to building relationships.
Having said the above, there is value in simply listening. It can be encouraging to people, for example. An encouraged person is more likely to take action and deliver results.
Thank you Dan! I need to be reminded that I’m a lousy listener. Always striving to be better at it. Being self-aware about this is key and that helps.
Thanks yanir. You aren’t alone. I know it’s over-stated, but I think the 96% number reflects how many are poor listeners.
And you are right. This is a reminder. For me the only thing new are the questions at the end. I used them recently and it took my listening to a new place.
And I think that you cannot over-emphasize “wildly.” I have known about this stuff for dozens of years and there is nothing new here. But even when my intent IS to listen to someone, it is damn hard not to be all set to respond. Getting to the thoughts and feelings underlying the others’ thinking is really hard because we DO want to respond with our thoughts.
I often find myself tiring of the person not getting to the point, not being “crisp” in their presentation as they meander through their thinking. THAT is also my fault.
It’s HARD to be a good listener. Thanks, as usual, for the posts that get people thinking, Dan.
Keep up the good works.
Thanks Dr. Scott. I’m just now thinking about how much energy it takes to listen. I wonder if there’s a study on this? But, boring people sure make listening more difficult!! 🙂
Made that our Daily Quote today on my departments message board! Great post.
Thanks Maggie. I’m delighted you found this useful.
You spoke and I listened. This post reinforced a valuable leadership relationship trait, listening shows respect.
Thanks Anita. Love that first line of your comment. Nicely said.
Hi Dan, my dissertation was on listening and leadership style because I believe that leadership increases when people *feel* they are heard and their leadership listens. There is a correlation between the listening and leadership.
Hey McSteve. That’s fantastic. Can I read it?
Great post! I would layer on to the “why we should listen” is to truly understand what is being told to you. Sure, you might know the answer to the problem right away or maybe you’ve heard the story before, but by ignoring the details throughout you might actual miss out on suttle clues that tell you more about the other person.
Think about the last time you called the internet company for an issue. Likely that customer service rep won’t listen to everything you’re saying and instead jumps to “let’s unplug the router” without hearing or addressing your emotions (or even the fact that you said you already did that).
Listen so you can engage to the FULLEST.
“You earn respect with your ears and lose it with your mouth” – it seems to me that listening is passive, so one cannot earn anything. I think people lose respect whe their deeds do not match their words, for “talk is cheap.” The intent of what is being said in the final outcome is what earns respect. “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears” was said not to earn respect for the speaker, but to avenge a murder. We do live in the information age, bombarded with something to listen to almost continuously. When the information does not come with an expected action, there is a loss of respect. I think this is particlularly true of the political and corporate spectrum of leadership.
Leaders can improve their listening skills by taking a workshop on effective communication
“What do you wish I understood better” is golden, Dan! That would disrupt even a heated argument and open up possibilities. When it comes to leaders/managers, it’s easy for one to think his or her value is in their knowledge and experience and they should share both frequently and abundantly In my former life as a psychotherapist, I learned quickly no one wanted to hear from me until they felt heard AND understood. I
This is some amazing insight on why listening is so important. I know first hand I am guilty of listening to respond not to ask questions and with intent. I believe this article is a great article for all people but especially those in leadership,
Bingo! Love your insights and your writing, thanks for sharing!