The importance of listening in business cannot be overstated. Creating quality products, partnerships, and successful projects begins with good listening. 

Whether it’s with your co-workers, partners in service, or customers, a conversation isn’t fruitful if you hear them but don’t really listen to them. Being able to distinguish the two can greatly influence your career prospects.

This is true if you aim to being effective in any form of collaborative roles. A good listener listens keenly and with an intent to collect and process the information being shared with them. It sounds fairly easy, but research shows that most people who struggle with good listening often take in only as much information as they need to craft a response. This in most cases leads to interruption of the other person’s comments or to the process of information reception by their own brain.  

The key is not to focus on how you’ll respond the moment they finish their sentence, but to listen and absorb what they are trying to communicate. 

Many professionals are feeling exposed due to the increasing focus on communication skills. Because of the business’s demands, they have dedicated a lot of time and effort to perfecting their technical skills – and have neglected the importance of soft skills. 

There are three main aspects of active listening: 

  1. Assimilation of information including directly communicated, left in between the lines, and body language (if applicable) and other nuances that exist as part of the context of the conversation. 
  2. Retention of key points and keeping track of what you hear during the listening process.
  3. Responses formed considering the entirety of information at each stage of the conversation

Engaging in active listening is easier during in-person communication. When people stand face-to-face, they interact directly while occupying the same space. One of the most important qualities you must practice for active listening is giving the other person a chance to finish their train of thought without interruptions. Furthermore, using and understanding non-verbal cues also becomes a part of active listening to let the person know you are paying attention. 

But as the world moves towards a hybrid workplace model, communication via video conference poses a lot of distractions, leading to a lack of focus. There are many experiences of people not paying attention during a virtual discussion as they tend to multi-task, browse through other media or engage in texting simultaneously. It may have become a force of habit, but it can easily be overcome with minor conscious actions. 

Wrapping up

Done right, active listening promotes trust, shows respect, and helps achieve constructive results. It should be no different whether it is an in-person meeting or a video conference.  

Every aspect of our lives, from the workplace to the personal, relies on communication. Active listening is essential to successful communication. Practice it consciously, until it becomes second nature.