How do I listen to people better by Matthew Coppola


Today in all walks of life, there is an asymmetry of information between people.  This occurs when there are gaps of information between one another, that is, when some have more information than others. To elaborate, there are “generation gaps” between youthful and elderly people, between the jury and the accused, between employees and employers and between businesses and their customers.

Why does this asymmetry of information come about? The main reason is due to miscommunication. Both parties fail to communicate effectively to each other.  Most of the time, people think of other things while someone is talking to them, instead of actually concentrating their thinking on the conversation and what is being said to them. So even though people may hear what is being said, they didn’t actually listen.

Studies have shown that we spend 40% of our time actually listening when communicating with others. So not only do we talk more then we listen, but we also operate at a listening level of about 25% efficiency. For some people, especially older ones, the levels may be even lower. So building up your skill at effectively listening to your work colleagues, managers and customers is very important for not only daily life, but for your job too.

What does it mean to listen?

To listen means to be attentive to what our colleagues are saying to use by using both our mind and heart, with our ears and our understanding.

Either at work or in your personal life you may have come across people saying to you that you’re not paying attention to them. This comes from the expression “to pay attention” Paying attention essentially means that being attentive to someone will cost you something. This cost is not only your time, but also your self-interest, because you’re putting the interests of others above your own interests. So listening to your customers, colleagues and management requires you to be unselfish with regards to your time, show patience and also self-control because you holding back thoughts about anything else and concentrating your sole attention on the other person.

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