Blog Post Talking is easy … listening is hard

Talking is easy … listening is hard



Talking is easy … listening is hard

“There is a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak.” – Simon Sinek

Do you think that you are a good listener? Many of us would like to think we are, but the truth of the matter is, most of us are not good listeners. Many of us hear little of what others have to say because we are waiting for a break in what the other person is saying so that we can interject our next sentence.

Listening is not the same as hearing. We hear things all the time. We hear cars, horns, whistles, sirens, birds, etc., but listening takes effort. Listening requires focusing on the message being delivered.

There are various types of listening that we engage in depending on the situation according to

  • Informational listening – is used when we want to learn new things. In order to help us gather information, this type of listening is accompanied by some kind of note-taking which we can refer to later.
  • Critical listening – is used when we are going to evaluate the message being delivered. News reporters listening to a politician’s speech will use this type of listening. This type is more active and engaging than informational listening.
  • Empathic listening – is used when we are attempting to better understand the feelings and emotions of the person delivering the message. Empathic listening helps us to better connect with the speaker.
  • Appreciative listening – is used when we listen for enjoyment, such as listening to music as a way of relaxing.
  • Rapport listening – is used when we are trying to get another person to like and trust us. It is used during negotiations and even by sales people.
  • Selective listening – is used when we are only interested in certain things a speaker has to say. Our internal bias screens out everything else other than what we want to hear.

Here are some interesting facts about listening from an article posted by Kristin Piombino on

  • We derive 55% of a message’s meaning from the speaker’s facial expression, 38% from how the message is spoken, and only 7% from the actual words spoken.
  • We listen to people at a rate of 125-250 words per minute, but we think at 1,000-3,000 words per minute.
  • Less than 2% of people have any formal education on how to listen.
  • Images go into long-term memory, but words live in short-term memory (where we can only retain about 7 bits of information at a time).

It’s no wonder we are not good listeners. However, we can become better listeners if we have the desire to do so. Here are some practical ways to become a better listener:

  • Be quiet – We should listen twice as much as we talk, that’s why we have two ears and only one mouth. Be conscious of how much you are talking and how much you are listening.
  • Practice listening – Like anything else, you only get good at something if you practice it. Time how long you can go without talking. Test how much you remembered of the conversation. Take notes. Recount the conversation after it’s over. And then do it again and again until you get better at it.
  • Think more about the other person – We are all a bit self-centered. We all like to talk because we all believe we have something important to say. Take yourself out of the spotlight and put the other person into it as often as you can.
  • Don’t interrupt – When someone is talking, let them finish completely before you interject your message. Politely interrupting is still interrupting.
  • Don’t plan your response while the other person is talking – Once you start doing that, you stop listening and start talking in your mind.
  • Don’t get distracted – Depending on where the conversation is taking place, it’s very easy to get distracted by the noise around you. Do the best you can to continue to be engaged in the conversation regardless of what is going on around you.
  • Be totally engaged – Remember, it’s not only the words that are important. It’s the body language, the person’s demeanor, tone of voice, etc. that is also part of the message being delivered. Looking and listening to all of it will help you put forth your message more effectively.Talking is easy, but to be a truly good listener, you have to want to do it and it will not happen overnight. You need to practice it until it becomes second nature and you’ll know you’ve arrived when someone tells you someday, “You know something, you’re a good listener!”

Being a better listener is important to our personal and business lives. It keeps you up to date on important matters; it makes you more competent; it helps you better understand others; it makes you look intelligent; it diffuses anger; it wins respect; it builds others’ self-esteem; it helps in negotiations; and generally helps you to gain better insight.

About the Author — Ron Feher is the Chief Improvement Officer at WhiteRock Business Solutions. Ron’s business helps turn small business strategy into reality. He is an executive advisor with The BoardRoom (executive think tank) and specializes in improving all aspects of business operations including business coaching, career coaching, employee assessments, business planning, and day-to-day operations. He is a certified project manager and a certified professional analyst with TTI Success Insights® utilizing their behavioral, motivational, competency, and emotional intelligence assessments to help businesses hire, retain, and improve their teams. Ron does Career Coaching as an outreach (#givingback) to the community. WhiteRock is located in Orange County, California and can be found at; or contact Ron directly at (949-466-0943). #betterlistener @RonFeher

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