These days, we wear our “busyness” as a badge of honor. We rush through emails, meetings and business lunches—and lose something valuable in the process: the ability to stop and listen. Ironically this ability is the one thing we need for success in the 21st century.
“It used to be that the smartest guy in the room was the one who was constantly talking,” says Professor Ed Hess, author of Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization. “Not anymore. Now, the smartest guy or gal in the room is the one who asks the right questions and then truly listens to what others have to say.”
According to Hess, listening is the most important skill for job success in today’s market. But in an attempt to keep up our frenetic pace, many of us have developed poor listening habits. Here are some of the worst and what you can do about them:
Thinking about something else. In an attempt to be productive, many of today’s professionals engage in multitasking. At the same time, studies show that multitasking can actually backfire and make us less productive. Thinking about another issue while someone else is talking means you may miss what is being said. Hess advises us to “intentionally think about what the other person is saying. Do you really understand? What did he or she really mean? Ask her if what you believe you heard is what she meant.”