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5 reasons why knowing how to listen is one of the most sought after skills to work


8 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


The true power of communication is knowing how to listen , not speaking. In fact, I always share the idea that we need to listen 80% of the time and speak only 20%.

It is not only about economy of words, but that, conceptually, the process of connecting with other people through the use of language, accompanied by gestures and emotions, is based on the ability to interpret and accompany what others share with us.

Since we are born we have been trained in the art of speaking. Is it because of the early stimulation for us to talk about babies that we have been branded that of talking and talking, and listening much less?

How to train your listening

Surely you know the public speaking courses; in fact, I have many published books and online and face-to-face trainings on this topic.

The proposal for now is to develop listening skills, which is just the opposite, although complementary. It is not just about staying absent, in silence, but about the power of being present with the other person, while expressing themselves.

For your bridges of contact with others to lie firmly, on solid foundations, and really connect, it is necessary that you develop active listening.

It is about the ability to connect with total presence: physical, mental, affective and spirit, so that, in this way, you can establish a more genuine contact with us and others.

Doing it this way will bring you the benefit that, over time, you will silence the mental noise, the thoughts that circulate at full speed and the judgments and interpretations while others speak.

These three ideas will help you speak less and listen more:

  • Maintain permanent eye contact.
  • Don’t interrupt or interfere with what they are telling you.
  • Calm your thoughts to connect with people, and stop preparing counter-arguments as they speak to you.

5 reasons listening works, and practical techniques

In today’s world of work, within soft skills, the ability to listen is among the first places, along with knowing how to clearly express your ideas, teamwork, flexibility and adaptability, among others.

Image: Depositphotos.com

To achieve this, here are 5 compelling reasons and several exercises to train you to know how to listen:

1. You will better perceive the ideas and intentions of others

When we only speak, the hemispheres of the brain get used to having that function predominantly. By making it a habit, it seems to you that silently and very closely observing is a waste of time.

Well, it’s the opposite. You will be able to better capture the intentions of other people, and from there you will build a better relationship in the exchange of ideas.

Practical exercise: from now on, in every conversation you have, do not respond automatically. Pause briefly for 5 seconds, and then answer. See how you feel starting with ‘micro silences’ to get used to a new way of listening.

2. What we say is decreed

Perhaps you are not fully aware of the importance of the language act. Let’s take this example: a contract signed in handwriting is not the same as one without the signature. The same happens with the spoken word: it is a decree, you are manifesting it, it comes out of your voice and it is expressed. You take responsibility for your expressions.

Each word has a weight and they are loaded with meaning. However, there are many people who find that speaking more they fill the spaces, and that with that they have some apparent benefit, for example, attracting attention for their verbosity, or that they consider them more important, eloquent or decisive.

There are people who say “I even talk to the stones”, and that is fine … except when they do not give space for others to express themselves, much less listen empathically.

To practice this point: consider that if what you are going to say is not valuable, do not say it. If you don’t add any relevant aspect, keep it to yourself. Do not fill in spaces. In any case, if they are ideas that do not add up, write them down and keep them for yourself. Rehearse this for a month in a row, and you will see how your conversations gain in quality and depth.

3. You can dialogue without words

Verbal language is ideal for pacing (going to the beat) of the people in front of us. In fact, it represents more than 90% of all human communication; words are the rest.

To actively listen you can work on perceiving your gestures and the paraverbal, for example, posture, speed when speaking and the distance at which you are from others.

When you manage to train the mastery of your listening, you will see how the conversations are richer and deeper, because you will pay more attention to what the other person says, their micro gestures, their cadences, nuances and silences.

Exercise in this way: when you are with someone, observe the position of your body, if you feel relaxation or tension anywhere, how your hands and legs are, the position of your head, and adjust whatever you need to be in tune with that moment. He also pays attention to the corporal in other people, since they transmit us messages, especially emotional ones. Then focus your attention on the message it conveys, without your mind going elsewhere. Keep your presence complete and silent.

4. Ask to advance, not to pry

A very human characteristic is wanting to know what others think and what life is like, or to gossip. If what you are asking helps improve the process you are in, go ahead. And if it’s just limited to your own curiosity or doesn’t add up, consider letting it go.

Listening is a dance between two or more people, with your perception and intuition highly developed and put at the service of the act that you carry out with others.

To work on this aspect: If contributions arise, it would be appropriate for them to be constructive and to help the evolution of the bond. Ask powerful, deep questions; dwell on the details that are important to you.

5. Paraphrasing: the best way to check if you are listening assertively

Another central point in quality listening is the paraphrasing technique, which involves repeating in your own words the salient aspects of what you need to check with the other person.

What is it for? To avoid judgments, assumptions and possibly misinterpretations that arise from taking certain things for granted, when, instead, you could have inquired if what you just said by paraphrasing is what the other person wanted to express.

I encourage you to practice it in any conversation. When you come to relevant and central points in the dialogue, you would say something like “If you will allow me, I would like to make sure that I fully understood what I just heard. What I heard (or perceived, or observed) is… ”, and there you reiterate the message in your own way. And in the end, you ask: “Is that so?”, Opening the possibility of correction or assertion from the other side.

“Being silent is how you learn to listen; hearing is how you learn to speak; and then, by speaking, one learns to be silent ”, said the Greek philosopher Diogenes of Sinope. And the great Chaplin said: “Don’t wait for your turn to speak: really listen and you will be different.”

As you have seen, listening practice is not filling a conversation with your absence of words. It is the opposite: it serves to be actively present while others express themselves, awaiting the next step that you will take in the dance of good communication.

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