If you type “active listening” in Google (as of November 2022), you will get 456M results. If you search “active listening book” in Amazon (as of November 2022), you will find 555 books. Do you think those numbers are big? Or small?
I thought that it was quite a number, and I feel it is a hot topic in today’s society. However, if you Google “communication”, the number goes up to 6.98B and “speaking” with 6.89B. In Amazon, you will find over 50K results in “communication books” and over 20K in “speaking books”. When you compare “listening” with “communication” or “speaking”, you can see that the number is very small. In fact, when I was in MBA in France, there were classes for “public speaking” and ‘presentation skills”. We were more focused on the speaking side of our skill set. Looking back my career as an HR consultant and a coach, most of the people I met were people who wanted to improve their speaking and communication skills. And more often than not, their “communications skills” tend to prioritize speaking skills, such as persuading, motivating, and encouraging someone. And I was focusing more on speaking side as well.
However, I don’t think it means listening skills are less important than speaking/talking skills. Or speaking skills are the skills that need to learn and you don’t need to put extra effort learning listening skills. On the contrary, I believe listening skills are more important than any other communication skills, and for many people, they need to learn and practice just like speaking skills but I feel it is not well recognized.
When I talk to business people and leaders, many of them said “I have to listen to others more” and/or “I know it’s important, but I tend to speak. I need to change my behavior”. So people acknowledge the value of listening. However, I haven’t encountered anyone asking around “what kinds of skills sets are there in listening?” or “how can I improve my listening skills?”.
Last four years, I have been an active member in a volunteer group where we actively listen to people’s stories when people wish to have someone to talk to. I joined the group after obtaining my coaching certification and thinking it was my expertise. But soon after I started to work there, I noticed my listening skills were far less adequate than enough.
I knew what I had to do to listen (and I believe many people are the same). But I was not able to perform those skills. I thought that I was performing what I was supposed to do, but it was not enough.
So the next 6 blog posts, I will share 6 skills that are essential components for listening. And I would love to discuss how I have been practicing those skills. If you are practicing those skills, I’d love to hear your methods as well.
If you are interested in talking about your expat life, concerns, challenges, and opportunities, please book a discovery session from here → https://www.interculturalcandc.com/book-online
I would love to hear your story.