Musings on Active Listening



So often, in our daily lives we ask questions without really caring about the answer (“Hi, how are you?”) or sometimes we’re so clear on what we want the answer to be that we hardly even listen for it. And then there are there times when we do care, but we just don’t stop to take the answer in.

Some of this, probably, is part of our naturally self-centered human nature. But we can probably all agree that it’s gotten ever harder to listen well in this, the age of distraction. Honestly, half of the time we’re doing something else while we’re asking – and while we’re supposed to be listening.

Thus the term Active Listening. Would you look at that? We’ve had to modify the original verb and make it sound more like a sport to really ensure that we’re all in!

We often say to our clients that while the obvious part of what we do is ask good questions, the more important part of the job is to listen, really well. Sometimes people think they don’t have the bandwidth for truly active listening if active listening implies single-minded listening or total presence. We’re busy! We’re in hurry! What a waste of time!

Our experience has been the opposite. Listening like this – actively, curiously, and without multitasking – it’s how we as business people and human people are our most productive. And our most connected. True thoughts, ideas and feelings get received – and responded to. Work happens more efficiently, progress happens more productively, stakeholders are happier. What’s not to love?


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