Listening is Important for Effective Communication

What could be the key to effective communication? The answer to this question does not fall within the realms of the seven Cs in communication– clear, concise, courteous, coherent, correct, complete, and concrete. This particularly decisive skill in communication is breaking the traditional bounds on the business front, so top employers today are training their employees to develop this skill. 

The skill is listening.

Listening plays a crucial part in communication as it solely represents the degree of effectively receiving and interpreting messages. When one listens, it directly contributes to an effective chain of communication. On the contrary, the absence of listening skills can be a barrier to good communication. 

Many success stories of entrepreneurs and other leaders accredit listening skills as it reduces errors and paves the way to productivity. For example, business magnate Richard Branson often quotes listening as a vital factor that shaped his success. Bernard M. Baruch also famously said, “Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.”

According to a Deloitte report, communication skills emerged as the second most important skill after self-management. 

Source 

What must you know about effective communication and listening?

major things and skills you must know to enhance your communication are given below:

1. Listening is NOT Hearing 

The psychological act of hearing is more like collecting data. It involves the involuntary action of perceiving sound. Listening, on the other hand, is voluntary as it demands hearing with thoughtful attention. 

Hearing results in partial interaction from the purview of business as it might involve a preconceived plan or notion upon responding. In contrast, listening points at a complete interaction as it is influential and aids in providing solutions or recommendations upon responding.

People usually want to be heard and understood. “I hear you” or simply paraphrasing what is being communicated to ensure that you have deciphered the message correctly might clear up any confusion and reassure the speaker. One does not always have to be the most charismatic or the funniest person in the room. If you pay close attention to the speaker and ask curious questions, you’ll come off as someone interested in what’s being discussed or said. 

2. Active Listening is the secret ingredient. 

To be an active listener, one must be completely aware of what is said with utmost concentration. It is a term that was coined by psychologists Carl Rogers and Richard Franson in 1957. They wrote that “Active listening is an important way to bring about changes in people. They indicate how clinical and research evidence clearly shows it as one of the most effective agents for individual personality change and group development. And also how active listening brings changes in peoples’ attitudes toward themselves and others; shaping their basic values and personal philosophy.”

Much like the seven Cs in communication, you can easily master the art of active listening by employing three simple As:

  • Attention

Due to a predominantly digitized lifestyle, the attention span of people has come down significantly. A study conducted and published in Time magazine in 2015 pointed out that people’s attention span is lower than that of a goldfish. The results showed that the average attention span of people has dropped from 12 seconds to an even lower – 8 seconds. To be a good listener, one will have to pay complete attention to what is said without getting distracted.

Professionals are now engaged in several exercises, meditative activities, and mind games while taking a break at their workplaces. These stimulative exercises aim to elongate the attention span of people. 

  • Attitude

Your attitude influences all of your actions. Retaining and reflecting a positive and respectful attitude goes a long way. One of the most sincere ways to be respectful is to listen. For instance, making the person at the other end of the conversation comfortable enough to have an open dialogue, not interrupting them, keenly observing non-verbal communication, among others, are signs of listening respectfully. 

  • Adjustment

To listen is to be able to allow yourself to be changed by the other who is communicating. To adjust is to have an open mind and have room for more perspectives. Thus, active listening demands that you be open to understanding new things and sometimes even changing the preconceived notions after critically assessing what is said. Be ready to invest time and energy to work through the challenges in your way.

Listening in Business Communication

Business communication can be classified into two broad categories:

1. Internal

As the term suggests, internal communication happens within the organization and is necessary for setting up an environment of mutual trust and coordination.

Internal communication helps boost productivity, solve conflicts between team members, and enables better and faster decision-making. Most importantly, it allows workers to stay motivated while promoting a healthy workspace. 

Senior-level executives can build a loyal workforce of skilled employees by ensuring that they are being heard. Listening to your employees’ challenges, pain points, or success stories helps you understand their strong and weak points. Consequently, you can give them meaningful advice. This is crucial to building trust and loyalty. 

When employees are loyal and trustworthy, they become more productive. Also, this fosters a free flow of opinions, ideas, and feedback through all parallels of the organization. Internal communication aims to help develop healthy work relationships that can drive the company towards fulfilling its goals. 

2. External

External communication is what the organization is communicating with the customers. It promotes the organization/business by projecting a favourable image before the target audience, stakeholders, and partners. 

In external communication, listening to the audience’s pain points and understanding their demands is crucial. Many advertisement campaigns miss the mark. They do not influence the perception or the behaviour of people. This is mainly because of the failure of the organization in understanding the requirements of its target audience. The most effective business and marketing personnel are the ones who are exceptional listeners. 

Emotions drive the purchasing behaviour of customers. Hence, recognizing these human emotions and creating products or services that are authentic, real, and resonating with the emotions of the target consumers are vital.

Thus, listening is one of the most critical aspects of business communication, both in the internal dynamics and external engagements and discussions.

How to master effective communication skills?

By now, you are aware that effective communication is a superior quality of a successful leader working across the different organizational levels. A good leader or manager can communicate their ideas to all team members while creating ample room for discussion and brainstorming. They listen to the ideas and perspectives of other people involved in the discussion and build on those to solve business challenges. 

If you aspire to enter the managerial level, or better yet, the C-suite, the best career pathway for you would be a professional management course. These courses are designed to groom candidates for managerial positions, giving 360-degree training on fundamental topics like business growth strategies, marketing strategies, leadership, structured thinking, interpersonal and communication skills, time management, analytical thinking, sourcing analytics, etc. 

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Conclusion

Apart from a robust technical suite, companies look for professionals with good soft skills, effective communication, and listening skills topping the charts. If you master interpersonal and communication skills, you can make an excellent first impression on anyone you meet, be it a potential employer or a vendor. Also, you can smoothly negotiate tricky matters like a promotion or salary hike. 

The bottom line is, the faster you adapt to the current industrial requirements and demands, the better it is for your career trajectory. So, why not take a little professional guidance from upGrad’s seasoned industry experts and become a certified management candidate?

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