Listening is a „highly complex problem solving activity"
Listening is one of four language skills, next to reading, writing, and speaking. Spoken language is very different than written language.
In contrary to reading and writing, speaking and listening are (1) delivered through the medium of sound (as opposed to print for written language); (2) linear and live; (3) are also linguistically different. These lead to "a wide range of input styles". Assimilating this variety is what makes listening so difficult
. But without listening what's the point of speaking? Everything has been said but not by everyone yet.
This morning on LinkedIn there were more then 1.3 million speakers. As far as I am concerned for every profile with a "speaker" tag in their job description, there are at least 5 more without. This is great: Change starts with standing up and sharing your ideas with the world. This is what the web's about - connecting people. But with roundabout 10 million speakers around there are only few who want to be known for listening.
That wouldn't surprise you if you'd recall the last conference you visited:
- How many of the speeches were relevant to you?
- How many of them could you acoustically hear well?
- And how many of them were also delivered well?
- How many could hold your attention for at least a minute?
- And for 15 minutes?
- How many did you listen to the end?
- How many do you remember?
If your result resembles mine you will also wonder why we bother speaking. And if listening matters? W.A.I.T. = Why Am I Talking
Another way to put it is using the Chinese proverb "You have one mouth but two years." Great speakers are rare, but great listeners scarce. Listening is the ultimative communication bottleneck. It is one of the most important leadership skills and the first thing you need to master as a coach. Good listeners make people believe they were heard. Great listeners let them feel that what they said matters.