In the course of my work I have found I am spending more and more time discussing the importance of this most vital success skill and how to improve it.  Active listening – the essential skill we simply cannot do without!  While this is a vital communication skill, it is taken for granted that people actually listen and understand!

Active listening quote

Being a good communicator, whether it is in work or at home, means knowing how to listen.  And when we think about our own listening skills we generally rate ourselves quite strongly.  Yet, when I take my clients through a really simple, fun, yet challenging listening skills exercise, they usually reduce their self-assessment rating!

Given the importance of this skill, I looked at some listening statistics, which I am sharing with you here:

  • People spend between 70-80% of their day engaged in some form of communication, and about 55% of their time is devoted to listening.
  • Research suggests that the average person hears between 20,000 and 30,000 words during the course of a 24-hour period.
  • The average number of words you’re able to listen to per minute is around 450.
  • Most people usually only remember about 17-25% of the things they listen to.
  • Listening to nagging or complaining for 30 minutes or more can cause damage to the part of your brain that handles problem-solving skills.

Do you have problems clearly understanding your customers or employees?

It is important to know the difference between listening and hearing!  How often have you heard someone say to you “I hear you!” – but you instinctively know they have not understood what you are saying?  And this is why:

  • Active Listening is a mental process that requires concentrating on sound, getting meaning from it and responding to it;
  • Hearing is a physical act allowing you to perceive sound only.

If you think you may be more a person who hears what is being said rather than actively listening to what is being said, then these tips will help you to become a more active listener.  Also, if you feel your colleagues would benefit from these, please do share:

  • Always face the speaker and maintain eye contact, around the eyes for approximately five seconds at a time.
  • Be attentive in a relaxed way.
  • Keep an open mind, do not listen simply to reply, but to really understand what is being said.
  • Don’t interrupt and don’t assume you know everything they are saying or are about to say.
  • Wait for the speaker to pause to ask clarifying questions which will ensure your understanding.
  • Give regular feedback to the speaker by nodding your head, saying “I’m listening” and by smiling in acknowledgment.
  • Also pay attention to the body-language of the speaker – this is 55% of the entire face-to-face communication and this may tell you something which is not being said!


The most important thing to remember is you hear with your ears, but you listen with your mind!

Did you find this helpful?

Let me know what you think about this post in the comments box below and also if there are any specific topics you would like me to cover in the future for you!

And, if you would like to speak with me about your own delegation needs or indeed any other area you feel you would like support with, just schedule a free consultation call with me.

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