Listening Intelligence Blog

The Cost Of Poor Listening (1)

Is Listening 100% of the Communication Equation?

Posted by Allison O'Brien on Sep 9, 2019 9:54:02 AM
Allison O'Brien

This week I had a rich and thought-provoking conversation with Tom, a seasoned business strategy consultant, about how he uses the ECHO Listening Profile with his clients.

At ECHO we say, “Listening is 50% of the communication equation,” meaning that it’s the combination of speaking and listening that creates conversation, and listening is the half that is often left out of the equation.

Tom suggested, however, that listening is actually 100% of the communication equation, not 50% like we often promote. At first I thought he was joking. What followed was a really interesting conversation about how listening transforms workplace conversations, how decisions are made and ultimately how those decisions impact team performance.

“At the heart of it,” Tom explained, “The problem that we own for clients is performance. Listening is a foundational aspect of performance for individuals and teams because it increases awareness of how we have conversations.” Tom went on to explain how he drives this message with his clients. Performance is a function of perception and occurrence. People perform based on how they perceive things, and how they perceive things is a product of their listening. For example, if we’re looking at a manager who is trying to move in a particular way strategically but can’t get the team to go with him or her, I will probe the sources of resistance and lack of alignment as a way into talking about how things are occurring for the team and therefore how they are listening.

“So here’s what I take from that,” I responded, “You’re saying that people’s perception drives performance and the way we perceive things is a direct response to how we listen? If we shift how we listen, we can change performance? Hopefully for more successful outcomes?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” said Tom. “Leaders can and need to learn to listen for the emerging futures of their organizations and then use what they’ve learned to shape those futures directly. When leaders transform their listening, they show up differently. Then their teams show up differently. When people collectively commit to listening, as a whole they become more curious, and that’s when the magic happens.”

Allison: “Amen.”

When we wrapped up our conversation, I was struck by how energized I felt. What Tom was alluding to is that when listening becomes a core company value, performance and outcomes organically improve. Listening drives curiosity and learning. That curiosity enhances dialogue which improves collaborative decision-making, which ultimately brings about higher function and better performance overall. 

ECHO Listening Intelligence provides tools and resources to help you understand the different styles of listening. It all starts with the ECHO Listening Assessment and ECHO Listening Profile. Take your assessment today and start selling better!

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Topics: Listening for Business, Listening, Leadership, Communication, Performance