Have you ever felt frustrated when someone wasn’t listening to you? Or noticed your own listening skills have been lacking? Listening is a difficult skill to learn in a content consumerist society. Attention spans are getting smaller as the number of stimuli gets bigger.
As humans, we crave love and a sense of belonging. Yet, most of us feel un-heard or have a hard time listening whether it’s at work or home. This is especially dangerous when it comes to romantic relationships.
Listen (pun intended), many of us think we have to buy courses or life coaches to become successful. Courses are useless if you don’t know how to listen, have manners, or be compassionate.
Sure, it’s wise to invest in yourself and become more educated. But there are necessary people skills you can self-learn. Nothing matters if you can’t genuinely connect with people. This skill is worth more than anything you can buy.
Good news babes! Today, this is what you’ll find in this post:
- What barriers keep us from being kickass listeners
- How it’s a skill we can learn. A valuable one which will help you succeed in both your personal and professional life.
Ps. Part 2 will be posted tomorrow! If you need help listening to yourself and waking up with intention then grab your free morning routine workbook here.
Why Listening is Important
Conscious listening creates understanding.” – Julian Treasure”
Years ago, I was a determined assistant working in the entertainment industry with a big music manager. My goal was to move my way up and make a mark.
One of our clients, a famous R&B singer, had a meeting to attend. My boss told me which place and time so I dutifully gave the information to our artist.
When the meeting time arrived, she showed up wondering where the hell everyone was. Two of the most frequented spots, at the time, sounded similar in name and I gave her the wrong address. I wanted to crawl into a corner and die. She had to trek all the way across town to the right location. In Los Angeles traffic.
I realized, when my boss first told me, my mind on other things. I didn’t listen like I should have.
Lea McLeod supports the benefit of listening in her article on Business Insider:
“Once you learn how to [listen], however, you’ll seriously boost your worth in the office. In his classic book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Dale Carnegie cites that being a good listener is one of the most potent things you can do to increase your influence and likeability. Plus, listening is one of the top skills employers seek in potential and current employees, and it’s correlated with perceived ability to lead (read: better chance at promotions).”
As creative entrepreneurs, many of us interact with coworkers and clients. Executing flawless work while building relationships is crucial in our line of work. The best way to succeed and advance in business (and life) is to learn how to be a better listener.
Let’s continue below:
1. Listening is Good For Business
Listening skills create trust and magnetism. People will want to work and be around you more. Christina Holbrook McEntee on Forbes.com says the people who “really listen to us are the ones we move toward and want to sit in their radius as though it did us good.”
Businesses who know the desires of their customers and target audience come out on top. Nothing creates loyalty more than feeling heard.
What about that famous Henry Ford quote, you ask? Well my friend, continue reading:
There is a quotation, supposedly from Henry Ford, which is always trotted out to counter this argument…“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for faster horses”. He points that while in 1921 Ford sold more than 60% of all cars manufactured in the US, by 1927 that figure had dropped to 15%. This was because…Ford had concentrated on producing a single inexpensive mass-produced car, the Model T, and had failed to listen to and meet the changing needs of his customers. In doing this Ford opened the door to competitors like GM, who started to make cars for “every purse and purpose”. – Martin Eriksson on The Importance of Listening to Your Customers by David Cancel
2. Poor Listening Can Cost You
There are brands who have lost tons of money because they didn’t listen to their customers.
“In 2003 Lego lost $300 million – even though Lego has the highest profit margin of any toy brand – and predicted a loss of $400 million in 2004. In the 1980s and 1990s, Lego had decided to innovate but had innovated too much. It had replaced its veteran designers with a younger crew who decided that customers wanted more choice. The number of unique Lego parts went up from 6,000 to 12,000, the designs became more complex and sales plummeted.” – Martin Eriksson on The Importance of Listening to Your Customers by David Cancel
After some time, Lego asked its customers what they wanted. To their surprise, customers wanted the simpler building and creative direction from the famous toy maker’s beginning. Things were too complicated and took away from the product’s original charm.
How does learning to listen sound now?
This sounds simple but each of us faces some common barriers to being listening rock stars.
Common Barriers to Good Listening
“Most of us don’t really listen very well. Or if we do manage to listen, we are often just waiting until the other person finishes so that we can say what is on OUR mind. And that’s not really listening. Over time the result of this is that we seal ourselves off from other people, we don’t really know them, or really understand their concerns. Eventually, as our lives move on, we may become more and more isolated.” – How Important Is Listening, Really? By Christina Holbrook McEntee on Forbes.com
Sound familiar? I’ve fallen under this label more than I care to admit. Being a good listener for my husband is something I work on every day. Lack of listening causes isolation and separation which contradicts our desire to connect.
Julian Treasure, a sound and communication expert, said in his TED talk that our listening and what we pay attention to is affected by filters:
“They create our reality in a way because they tell us what we’re paying attention to right now.” He continues to say, “The premium of accurate listening has simply disappeared” because of writing audio and now video. The world is noisy. Actual conversation is being replaced by personal branding. Treasure states it’s “A serious problem that we’re losing our listening.”
“If a person is a poor listener it’s because they’re thinking about their defense and only care about being right. The “having-to-be-right” disease usually reflects low self-esteem. The person needs to prove to themselves that they’re a good, smart, etc. person. One with high self-esteem usually is a great listener. This person doesn’t take offense easily and at all times has one goal in mind: giving love and understanding to the other person. Making them happy.” – Laura Neilsen Denke, Marriage and Family Therapist
When we overcome the need to defend ourselves we give the attention others deserve. Doing so is the best way to have joy and connection.
Other common barriers are the inability to hear because of background noise, worry, fear, or anger, and a short attention span as stated by Dawn Rosenberg McKay. Lea McLeod takes this a step further, on Business Insider, by saying, “We have a biological challenge, too: We can listen about three times faster than anyone can talk. That means we have excess capacity in our brain that will wander off and entertain itself unless we take steps to intentionally manage it.”
Start working on bettering yourself by creating a morning routine
. This primes you to listen to yourself and in effect listen to others. Part 2 is coming tomorrow!