by Marcus Straub

Whether in business or life, poor communication presents the biggest obstacle to any successful relationship. And it all begins with LISTENING! 

Ineffective communication and not truly listening to others results in anger, frustration and resentment. That’s not to mention disgruntled team members and dissatisfied clients.

Consider your professional and personal relationships to understand the importance of communication. In those relationships you find most fulfilling and successful, you feel heard and understood. You communicate well. Conversely, in those relationships you deem least successful, you likely don’t feel heard. Communication is so limited the relationship suffers as a result. 

Here are some important questions to ask yourself. Do you like it when others truly listen to you? Do you feel respected, acknowledged and valued when others really listen to what you’re saying? Do you have greater rapport and trust with those who listen to you? In other words, do you like it when others care enough to be present with you in their listening? Are you listening to others the way you want them to listen to you? If not, why not?

Several sabotaging behaviors, or blockers, limit our listening abilities. They include:

  • PLACATING: You agree with everything in an effort to get along, be liked or because you aren’t truly listening.
  • REHEARING: You focus your attention on what you’ll say next.
  • ADVISING: You believe you have the solution to the other person’s problem and offer advice rather than truly listen.
  • MULTITASKING: You fail to be present as you split your time and attention between two or more things. 
  • JUDGING: You prejudge the person with whom you’re talking and use negative labels to do so.
  • DREAMING or DRIFTING: Your attention is on anything other than the conversation — the vacation you want to take, the things you need to get done or an unresolved issue in your life.
  • IDENTIFYING: You use the stories of others as a reference point to tell your own at the expense of theirs.
  • BEING RIGHT: You focus on arranging information, saying things or acting in ways so as to not be wrong.
  • DERAILING: You derail the train of conversation with sudden changes to the topic or make jokes as you become bored or uncomfortable.
  • SPARRING: You actually look for things with which to disagree.

Which of these listening blocks do you recognize?

Some of them? All of them? Not sure? 

Participants in my communication trainings are astounded to learn just how much they unknowingly sabotage their professional and personal relationships by not listening. But becoming someone who truly listens is simple once you’re taught how.

Effective listening constitutes one of the most fundamental and powerful communication tools of all. The first step is to gain a good understanding of what you can do or stop doing to get better. From there, the ill effects of ineffective listening are all but eliminated. Interactions become more pleasant and successful as you learn to stop talking or thinking and develop the habit of truly listening.

Stephen R. Covey — the author, businessman and speaker — put it this way:

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply.” 

The truth is, we all want to be heard and understood.

Developing the powerful habit of truly listening is the first step in becoming an effective communicator and 
creating more successful professional and personal relationships. If you want to increase the effectiveness of your team as you build a successful business, I encourage you to begin with the foundational competency of listening. 

Successful relationships of all kinds rest firmly on the abilities of those involved to effectively communicate. The reality, however, is most of us aren’t taught to communicate with the intention of understanding, building relationships and solving problems. In business, not listening effectively to others is a primary cause of dysfunction and can make the difference between success and failure.

About the Author

Marcus Straub is Founder and CEO of Life Is Great!™ (LIG) Coaching and Consulting, Inc. based in Grand Junction, Colorado. Marcus is a Certified Value-Added Associate for Targeted Training International (TTI), Inc and Certified Facilitator for Indigo Education Company.