Is It Better To Listen Than To Speak?

The answer is "Not really." (However, if you are going to speak, make it worthwhile.) I framed the question and answer to attract your attention to this entry which is about the critical and underused skill of effective listening. A July 23, 2014 Wall Street Journal feature article by Sue Shellenbarger summarizes lessons learned and tips from various consultants and trainers about how to listen, how not to listen, and what research shows about a significant decline these days in face to face communications and listening skills.  Specific examples of positive results that businesses have experienced and attributed directly to using good listening skills are noted in the article.

Listening skill is one that mediators have practiced and cultivated. Those including myself who also train and advise others in mediation and dispute resolution seek to create keener awareness of when people are truly listening and when not. The very good news is that a person who works on improving how he or she listens to others will most likley see positive results from improved interactions with work colleagues and clients.

A later entry here may be about speaking and asking good questions. For the moment, consider this: what a person takes in from listening well increases the likelihood that when he or she starts to speak or ask questions the content will be more relevant and responsive to the other person, and thus conducive to satisfactory communications.


Jeanne Franklin