What’s the Most Important Skill on the Job?

According to a recent study, the most important skill on the job isn’t critical thinking, creativity, technical competence or computer knowledge.

It’s listening.

Listening in the marketplace is vitally important. We must listen to customers, managers and employees in every-day business.  Stephen Covey, in his best-selling book, identifies listening – understanding others’ messages before making one’s own understood – as one of the “seven habits of highly effective people.” Good listening skills require that not only the speaker’s message content is carefully considered, but also his feelings, intent and context are as well.

Listening seems so simple. It’s something you just do it, right? But then why then do so many people struggle with listening and retaining information? Research shows that immediately after a 10-minute presentation, a normal listener can recall only 50 percent of the information presented. After 48 hours, their recall level drops to 25 percent.

There are many reasons why people aren’t tuned into someone who is talking. Sometimes physical distractions in a room can keep someone disengaged. Sometimes people are preoccupied with business or personal concerns and can’t keep their mind on the subject at hand. Or sometimes it’s due to the idea that talking and staying in control of the conversation has more advantages than listening.

If you struggle with listening and want to become more effective, try putting these five tips into practice:

    • 1. Take time to listen
      If someone wants to talk to you, do whatever you can to minimize physical distractions and give them your full attention. Don’t “fake” listening when you are really writing an email, scrolling through Facebook or talking on the phone. It will be quicker to listen up front than to go back later and clarify any misunderstandings.

 

    • 2. Listen and learn
      Ration your own words and let the other party do the talking. This is especially important in marketing when you need to attentively listen to a prospective client to determine his or her needs. Minimize interrupting the speaker and allow them the time to elaborate.

 

    • 3. Seek clarity
      When it is your time to talk, don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is a great way to clarify meanings and it encourages the speaker to elaborate. You could even try paraphrasing the speaker’s idea into your own words to be sure you have understood them correctly. Be aware of nonverbal cues as well such as gestures or facial expressions to help understand another person’s feelings and attitudes.

 

    • 4. Withhold Judgment
      Listen first to what someone has to say to you before you evaluate. Especially if you have a strong opinion on the matter at hand. Don’t jump to conclusions before giving the speaker a chance to convey their message.

 

    • 5. Take Notes
      This simple procedure we learned in school is still important in the work place. Writing notes can help you recall information and remember important comments and deadlines. Note taking can be helpful for face to face meetings and phone conversations.

 

Truly listening and not just hearing the people around you can be difficult and takes practice. But once you seek to understand before being understood, you may be surprised at how the quality of your conversations and your level of understanding improves.

TCreative is a 7 Habits Company so we value listening to our customers to make sure we are meeting all their needs. Call us today and let us help you bring some Serious Fun to your next project.

For more information on becoming an effective listener, check out this post by Sandler Training.