Rediscover the lost art of listening

Why your ears are so important to your career

Career success is going to be about just two things-how good you are at what you do and how well you get along with people. To do either, but particularly the second, your skills as a listener are crucial. For some people, when you are not in ”transmit” mode, they assume this must mean that they are in “receive” mode. Not true-it’s more likely that they’re in “not paying attention” mode. But to be a good listener you have to try really hard. You have to try as hard as this: I met a woman few years back who’d been trained at Procter and Gamble, a company which always had a formidable reputation for its excellence of marketing practice. She did indepth interviews with consumers and had been trained to do these without taking notes. Apparently these went much better and with far richer content with no tape recorder or notebook. She told me how she’d been taught to listen by looking at the interviewee and really concentrating, and then she’d remember what they’d said, fully and accurately, when afterward she wrote it down. Try it yourself. For about half an hour afterward you’ll have an extraordinary and excellent ability to recollect. You’ll even recall body language and facial expressions. Learning to listen, to hear what is being said, to understand what is being communicated (and then to remember all this), is key to making progress in your career.

Why?

Because if you listen, and through this remember, you’ll learn and quickly become more adept at what you do. Because people who listen are more popular and better company to be with, because listeners are always smarter than talkers are. People believe listeners are also deep thinkers.