How do you communicate? Not you, specifically. What I mean is what do you think the basics of communication are? Speaking well? Being able to articulate your thoughts lucidly? Knowing what you are talking about? Talking loudly enough? What about making yourself heard?
While I will hold back on my opinion on these points, one facet of communication that I think does not receive enough attention is Listening. Wait, what? Listening? Isn’t communication about talking? What is this listening mumbo-jumbo? No. Listening. It is one of the most important skills you need to develop in any business (and life) situation, and it is probably THE most important tool in your communication armoury.
Why? I will give you three reasons why.
The number one reason you should learn to listen is so people can trust you. This is so self-evident it doesn’t need explanation. Listening builds trust. People trust someone who is willing to listen to them. Ask yourself who you trust more: the friend who listens to what you have to say or that nosy colleague who just can’t stop talking about how awesome they are (truly they aren’t). If you want to be trusted, you need to listen.
This goes hand in glove with Trust, right? The more you are trusted, the more you are seen as a credible resource. And do you really believe you can build more credibility for yourself by talking? Have you not seen talking heads on TV? Do you think they have credibility? Actually, speaking is important to build credibility. But no more than listening. If you only listen without speaking, chances are you will be perceived as lacking enough knowledge to talk. But if you just talk without listening, you will most likely be seen as a pompous airhead à la Arnab Goswami.
How do you gain knowledge? Especially knowledge that will help you in your career? By reading books? By listening to podcasts? By following informed sources on Twitter? By watching YouTube videos? All pursuits worthy of your time indeed.
In a corporate environment, however, the best way for you to expand your knowledge is to listen. Everybody has a perspective, and when you listen to everybody, you get the benefit of all those perspectives, which in turn results in your point of view being so much more broader because you can learn from those differing perspectives and enhance your knowledge and information on any topic.
That then are the top three reasons for you to cultivate the art of listening. Go ahead. Listen. Then come back and let me know how you feel.