If you’re like most people, you probably think you are a good listener; however, much like many of the things we think we’re good at, our personal assessment of ourselves may not be a true reflection of our actual ability. In a recent article by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, these two author compare and contrast what the average person believes good listening is, versus what being a good listener really means.
As the authors suggest, most people think good listening comes down to doing three things:
Not talking when others are speaking
Letting others know you’re listening through facial expressions and verbal sounds (“Mmm-hmm”)
Being able to repeat what others have said, practically word-for-word
We suspect that in being a good listener, most of us are more likely to stop short rather than go too far. Our hope is that this research will help by providing a new perspective on listening. We hope those who labor under an illusion of superiority about their listening skills will see where they really stand. We also hope the common perception that good listening is mainly about acting like an absorbent sponge will wane. Finally, we hope all will see that the highest and best form of listening comes in playing the same role for the other person that a trampoline plays for a child. It gives energy, acceleration, height and amplification. These are the hallmarks of great listening.