One of the main reasons communication between people breaks down is that listening (like reading, thinking clearly and focusing) is a skill which we rarely consider to be something requiring study and practice.
Active listening is a technique for developing our ability to listen by putting ourselves in to other person's shoes. This means trying to understand the speaker's own understanding of an experience without the listener's own interpretive structures intruding on his or her understanding of the other person.
Here are our favorite articles/videos on this topic:
- The power of listening by William Ury, TEDx [15 min video]. William explains how listening is the essential, and often overlooked, half of communication. He then moves on to persuade the audience into joining a “listening revolution”, an acting of listening a bit more to be able to transform any relationship.
- Active Listening: The Master Key to Effective Communication by Farnam Street [11 min read]. Listening is difficult because it involves suppressing your ego long enough to consider what is being said before you respond. Active Listening is a technique to develop the way we listen, and this article delves into how it can help us overcome cognitive biases and improve communication drastically.
- Improve Your Active Listening Skills With These 13 Strategies, Forbes [8 min read]. 10 members of the Forbes Coaches Council share their top strategies to practice active listening.
- 10 ways to have a better conversation by Celeste Headlee, TED [12 min video]. A conversation requires a balance between talking and listening, and somewhere along the way, we lost that balance. Most of us don't listen with the intent to understand, we listen with the intent to reply. Celeste Headlee shares 10 useful rules for having better conversations.
- “Can you hear me?” How to Improve a Scrum Team's Listening skills on Zoom calls by Paddy Corry [7 min read]. Paddy walks you through the 4 levels of listening: Cosmetic, Conversational, Active and Deep. He then recommends some simple exercises to practice active listening.
- Improving Communication Skills, Active Listening by Prof. Maurice Schweitzer[5 min video]. This section of Wharton's course on Improving communication skills delves into the effects and benefits of Active Listening.
- Active Listening: My Silent but Spectacular Strategy for Success by Nina Vaca, [6 min read]. Active listening is called “active” for a reason. It requires focus and intentional action on your part, but in business, and in life, it's one of the most important actions you can take. Nina discusses few scenarios in which active listening is beneficial.
- Being A Good Listener by The School of Life [5 min video]. This short video lists 4 different characteristics of a good listener and illustrates them using real life situations.
- If You Want to Innovate, Listen! By Barry Gruenberg [2 min read]. Innovation requires the ability to influence. However, people often neglect the key role of listening in the art of influencing.
- Ken Iverson: The Cure for the Common MBA by Farnam Street [4 min read]. AKen Iverson, the legendary CEO of Nucor, believed that Active Listening was one of the key skills managers needed to master “Listening is among the scarcest of all human skills, in and out of management. Listening requires concentration, skill, patience, and a lot of practice. But such practice is a very sound investment of the developing manager's time."
Most of the successful people I've known are the ones who do more listening than talking.
— Bernard Baruch, American financier, and presidential advisor