How would you rate your listening skills?  Are you an active listener?  Or are you actively looking for your next chance to get a word in as soon as possible?  Maybe already formulating what you’re going to say as soon as anyone takes a breath!

According to Marshall Goldsmith, "80 percent of our success in learning from other people is based on how well we listen."  Sound too passive to really account for 80%?  That’s because listening well is really an active process.  Not enough to just stand and wait for a chance to talk.  It’s important to actually do three things to listen well.

  • Think before you speak.  Don’t just stand there!  Focus your attention on what is being said.
  • Listen with respect.  Lean in.  Give your attention fully.  Be totally engaged.
  • Determine whether your response is "worth it".  This is the key step.  Goldsmith describes this as listening two steps ahead, almost like playing chess.  Stop to "consider what the other person will feel after hearing your response."  Now that is a challenging move.  Expending the effort to determine whether your response is worth it helps you to "consider: (a) how the other person regards you, (b) what the person will do afterwards, and (c) how that person will behave the next time you talk."

I have to say, this is an exercise that I will be working.  If listening well is 80% of success…I want to learn how to be a world-class listener.  Starting today.

Listening for Success