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Active Listening Versus Hearing

When others are talking, how much do we really listen? And, even if we hear what someone is saying, are we truly seeking to understand the meaning and intention behind their words? Sadly, too often the answer is “no.”

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    Active Listening Versus Hearing

    Active Listening Versus Hearing

    “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

     – Epictetus

    When others are talking, how much do we really listen? Frequently, the answer is “not nearly enough” as our minds are busy readying our response or too distracted by our phones feeding us a steady stream of text messages.

    And, even if we hear what someone is saying, are we truly seeking to understand the meaning and intention behind their words? Sadly, too often the answer is “no.”

    Introducing Active Listening

    Active listening is a conscious act that fully focuses on what is being said. It involves the engagement of all the listener’s senses by being fully present in the conversation, including watching for non-verbal clues and avoiding distracting movements, such as looking at text messages.

    The Case for Active Listening

    Active listening promotes openness and builds stronger relationships by demonstrating concern and interest in the individual and valuing what he or she is saying. In the workplace, it can result in higher productivity since more developed listening skills can better avoid overlooking important information, identify or anticipate potential problems, and empower leaders through greater employee loyalty fostered by “being heard.”

    Also, listening makes people smarter. No one has ever gotten smarter by talking.

    How to be an Active Listener

    Here are some tips to hone your active listening skills.

    • Ask questions that exhibit genuine interest and prompt the speaker’s response.
    • Summarize the speaker’s comments to communicate you’ve heard what they said and allow the speaker an opportunity to correct anything you may have misheard.
    • Listen to understand, rather than to respond.
    • Withhold judgment and advice.
    • Ask questions for purposes of clarification. Open–ended questions will encourage the speaker to share more information, while probing questions invite a deeper dive on a particular point.
    • Offer verbal affirmations (e.g., “yes,” “good point,” “I see”).
    • Display empathy by sharing similar experiences.

    Applications for Financial Professionals

    The application of active listening for financial professionals is especially relevant. Here’s a question to ask yourself: When I interact with my clients, what percentage of that time is divided between talking and listening?

    As experts in investment management and financial planning, there is a tendency to display that expertise through talk and charts. Yet, like a medical doctor, it is through our questions that we diagnose problems and discover unspoken fears and concerns. It is when solutions are founded on active listening—rather than textbook principles—that client loyalty and gratitude becomes the strongest and most enduring.

    Please reference disclosures at: https://blog.americanportfolios.com/disclosures/

    About The Author

     

    Vice President of Business Services 
    631.870.8258 

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