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Listening in Business

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.

Stephen R. Covey

Listening in Business

Chances are you think you’re a good listener.  People’s appraisal of their listening ability is much like their assessment of their driving skills, in that the great bulk of adults think they’re above average.

Listening is Important

Verbal communication involves both speaking and listening. In a business organization, listening is key to effective working relationships among employees and between management and staff. Listening skills also directly impact a company’s interaction with customers and other businesses.

Listening enables you to acquire facts so that you can make decisions that benefit your business. It is essential to building trust and can reduce conflict.

The reputation of a business depends upon good listening skills.

Significant reasons to improve your listening skills are.

To Gain Information – Listening enables you to acquire facts so that you can make decisions that benefit your business. By listening to a job applicant in an interview, for example, you might discover their attitudes toward the profession, performance in previous jobs, and information not detailed on their resume.

Developing and Building Trust – Listening is essential to building trust. If one member of a team doesn’t listen to instructions, an entire project might fail.

Maintaining Your Reputation – The reputation of a business depends upon listening skills. For example, if you fail to listen to a customer, the customer might not receive the service or product as expected and will eventually take their business elsewhere.

Listening Can Reduce Conflict – Conflicts can arise when an individual feels misunderstood or mistreated, which is generally caused by one or both parties failing to listen adequately.

Motivating Employees Through Listening – A manager can improve morale and productivity by understanding what motivates each employee. Listen to employees to discover what aspects of the job they find most rewarding and challenging.


Most people think good listening comes down to doing three things:

  • Not talking when others are speaking
  • Letting others know you’re listening through facial expressions and verbal sounds (“Mmm-hmm”)
  • Being able to repeat what others have said, practically word-for-word

Studies are now showing that being a good listener requires more attention and effort than previously thought.

Good listening is much more than being silent while the other person talks. On the contrary, people perceive the best listeners to be those who periodically ask questions that promote discovery and insight. These questions gently challenge old assumptions, but do so politely and constructively.

Good listening includes interactions that build a person’s self-esteem. The best listeners make the conversation a positive experience for the other party, which doesn’t happen when the listener is passive (or, for that matter, critical). Good listeners make the other person feel supported and convey confidence in them.

Good listening is a cooperative conversation. Feedback flows smoothly in both directions, with neither party becoming defensive about comments the other made. By contrast, poor listeners are seen as competitive — as listening only to identify errors in reasoning or logic, using their silence as a chance to prepare their next response.

Good listeners tend to make suggestions. Good listening includes providing feedback in a way others would accept, and that opened up alternative paths to consider. Part of being a good listener includes the skill to convey suggestions effectively.

The Bible

Proverbs 1:5 says.

 “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.”

We can deceive ourselves so easily.  So, to avoid that, King Solomon suggests we listen to both to increase our learning and determine how to apply that learning—which ultimately is called wisdom.

James 1:19 says.

 “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”

We sometimes get this verse reversed and are quick to speak but slow to listen…and then we’re fast to anger because of it.

Great business leaders and entrepreneurs are great because of their ability to listen, and then they apply all they learn.