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In 2006, Laura Janusik and Andrew Wolvin, presented a paper at a meeting of the International Listening Association titled "24 Hours in a Day: A listening Update to the Time Studies." In it, they suggested that listening occupies one-fourth of our waking hours. 

But are we REALLY listening for 4 plus hours a day? Or at all? 

Stephen Covey stated, "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." Ernest Hemingway said, "When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen." 

And it's a shame. Because as Doug Larson states, "Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you preferred to talk." American financier and presidential advisor, Bernard Baruch, stated that "Most of the successful people I've known, are the ones who do more listening than talking."

Here are 2 proven ways to become a better listener:

1. Learn How to Listen.

Daniel Pink, in his best-selling book To Sell is Human, quotes American philosopher Mortimer Adler: 

"Is anyone taught how to listen? How utterly amazing is the general assumption that the ability to listen well is a natural gift for which no training is required. How extraordinary is the fact that no effort is made anywhere in the whole education process to help individuals learn how to listen well." 

Take a class on "active listening."  Read books on "listening skills." Invest time and money to become better at listening. Betsy Sanders, former Senior VP of Nordstrom's, stated that "to learn to listen you'll have to practice naively and actively."

Listening won't come looking for you. You'll have to look for it and be self-taught on the subject.

2. Listen to Learn How.

Dalai Lama states, "When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new." 

Robert Baden-Powell, British officer and founder of the world-wide Scout movement said that "If you make listening and observing your occupation, you'll gain much more than you can by talk." Larry King is quoted as saying, "I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say today will teach me anything. So, if I'm going to learn, I must do it by listening." 

So, what can you do jump-start these 2 proven steps to becoming a better listener?

  • Slow down. Daniel Pink would suggest that we slow down and experience "amazing silence."
  • Put it in practice. Try it out today. Now is the time to launch listening in to our daily lifestyle routines. American psychiatrist, Karl A. Menniger, would say that "Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force."
  • Show someone who has differing views or a different background R.E.S.P.E.C.T. by listening to them. 
Deborah Tannen, professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, rightly states, "To say that a person feels listened to means a lot more than just their ideas get heard. It's a sign of respect. It makes people feel valued." 

Today, more than ever, we need to become listeners. Take the time to learn how to listen and then listen to learn how others feel, think, and work. It's a proven path to more compelling communication. 

Schedule a complimentary consultation! We'll LISTEN!


Dan Whitfield

Written by Dan Whitfield

Dan is dedicated to "coaching up" small business owners and leaders of growth-oriented sales organizations. His goal is to help you get where you want to go. Faster.