The importance of listening

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Are you criticised or praised for your listening skills? This free article about listening by Derek Stockley identifies the importance of actually listening to what is being said.


We constantly hear about the importance of listening.

Listening can be applied on a number of dimensions. Even the phrase "you’re not listening" applies at a number of levels.

Firstly, "you’re not listening" can be taken literally. You may not be physically hearing what is being said. Hearing is different to listening. Hearing is only one element of listening.

Secondly, you may hear the noise, but your lack of concentration means that you are not taking it in.

Thirdly, you may be hearing the words, but you may not understand the intended message. When your boss says "you’re not listening" this is normally what they mean. You are hearing the words, but you do not respond correctly because you do not understand. For example, 'immediately' can mean this very second or in the next minute or so, when you have finished the brief task you have just started. Your understanding of 'immediately' in the right context can be critical. You have to hear the words. You have to place them in context. You have to interpret the total message.

Improving listening skill

As a general tip, the greater your focus on listening, the greater becomes your listening ability.

During a communication training session I attended, the instructor read a passage of quotes. Without warning, he immediately conducted a quick quiz to test each participant’s recollection of the passage. Recollection was generally poor.

A little later, he did the same thing again, but with a more complicated passage. Even with the greater complexity, everyone did much better during the second quiz on remembering the key points . We were prepared for it and were expecting to be tested again.

We were engaged in the listening activity. Consequently, our listening ability improved quite dramatically.


Listening involves hearing the words and correctly interpreting those words.

You can easily improve your listening skills - you just have to concentrate harder. Make sure your attention is focussed on the speaker. Block out the exterior factors. If there is a lot of noise, find a quieter place. Look at the person. Acknowledge what they are saying. If you can, interact with them in some way.

Personal reflection

Are you listening to others?

Do people say to you: "you’re not listening"?

Are you concentrating on listening, not just hearing?

Did you miss it?

Did you see the article about the overuse of jargon phrases or buzzwords?

Buzzword Bingo - the overuse of jargon in business - if you think there is too much jargon in business, then this free article about playing Buzzword Bingo may bring some humour to the situation.

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Derek Stockley conducts a variety of public training courses in Australia.

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