Active listening is among the most sought-after skills in today’s business marketplace. Active listeners forge stronger relationships, inspire more trust and formulate better solutions than their less-engaged counterparts. Unfortunately, active listening is a skill that many claim, but few possess.
The problem is that we spend so much time listening that we assume we must be good at it. This is truer today than it ever has been, as we are “listening” more persistently to more sources via more channels than we ever have before. Despite the overwhelming volume of information that we peruse every day, most of us end up retaining very little of it. Further, our commitment to all those channels means that we often fail to focus on any one of them – even when it’s a person standing in front of us.
So, what is the difference between active listening and passive listening? Active listening includes not just being present for a conversation (or email or text/IM), but also engagement in that interaction.
And while active listening is an important skill for everyone, it’s even more so for those aim for leadership positions. You need to hone your active listening skills, and those of your team. Start by taking this short active listening skills test (you can have your team take it, too!). After the test, we’ve provided some exercises to help fill skill gaps and reinforce good habits. Answers and feedback and provided at the end of the article.