In our workshops, when asked, practically everyone has taken a speech or presentation class sometime during their formal education. Few have taken a formal class in listening skills. We make assumptions that because listening began very early when we listened to our parents, it is an enate and natural skill. Good listening skills can be learned. In fact, many of the studies and research on the traits of leaders put the ability to listen close if not near the top of the list. Effective leaders know how to set-aside their agenda to really ask questions and listen – some say it is the foundation of their power. Effective leaders are skilled at using active listening skills to focus in on the motivational needs of the team. In the workplace, technical ability may get an employee hired, but being able to communicate using effective communication skills, especially listening skills, promotes continuing success within the organization. Individuals with good listening skills are usually considered good conversationalists – yet they ask more questions and paraphrase the speaker more than give their views or opinions. When we use active listening skills with others and give feedback we find out “things” we didn’t know and we compliment them by letting them know they have value to us.
Effective listening – active listening skills – is very interactive. It involves hearing, decoding, and confirming oral messages. It requires intention, attention and effort.