Listening is a rare gem in a world where everyone clamors to be heard. It can transform personal and professional relationships.

Think about it: when was the last time you felt truly listened to?

Chances are, it was when someone took the time to listen to you without judgment or interruption. That’s the power of listening – it validates our experiences, fosters empathy, and strengthens bonds in ways that words alone cannot.

When we think of communication, we often picture eloquent speakers captivating audiences with their words. But what if I told you that the real magic happens not in what’s spoken… but in what’s heard? 

Welcome to the wonderful world of communication, where listening takes centre stage as the unsung hero of meaningful connections. In this post, we’ll delve into the art of communication, spotlighting the more than often overlooked skill of listening.


The art of active listening

It’s as simple as being present. But it goes beyond chatting on the phone or being in the same room when someone is speaking. Authentic listening is active, unlike simply “hearing”, which is much more passive. Listening is about making sure the person talking to us knows we’re really there with them.

The art of “not” listening

You’re having coffee and a conversation with a friend. You might be catching up and talking about a recent holiday you had. You’re starting to share some of the highlights of your holiday. You pause for a moment to recall, and your friend jumps in, hijacks the conversation and starts talking about themselves! 

This is a classic example of someone not listening, not interested in what you have to say, and, quite frankly, it’s rude and boring! This is not communication.

Communication is between two or more people in which thoughts, feelings, and ideas are expressed, questions are asked and answered, or news and information are exchanged.

And then there’s the person who doesn’t even wait until you have finished talking before they butt in and talk over you – rude and disrespectful – but don’t get me started on that…

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Dalai Lama

Why is listening more powerful than talking?

Listening goes way beyond hearing words; it involves making sense of the underlying meaning and emotions behind them. By actively engaging in attentive listening, you can better understand others’ needs, concerns, and aspirations.

When you truly listen, you demonstrate respect, build trust, foster empathy, and lead to deeper mutual understanding. When you listen closely without interrupting or starting to prepare your response, you show the other person that you value what they say. This builds long-lasting friendships and helps create psychological safety for people who want to share things.

Silence is the key to practising the art of listening. By stepping back and not interrupting, you can appreciate what another person is saying and give them space to engage in the discussion.

This is the quintessential meaning of communication.

There is a perception that to be a good communicator, you should focus on being a good speaker. However, although eloquence is essential, being a good listener is also crucial. After all, conversations are not one-sided, so at least half your focus should be on listening.

Speaking and listening are equally important if accurate and effective communication is the desired outcome. However, some people are more skilled in one area than another. If someone excels at speaking yet does not listen well, this person will not be able to respond to incoming information meaningfully or productively.

Are you listening to your customers?

Listening to customers is more than just hearing about their problems. It’s about listening and connecting with them. It involves paying close attention to their needs and understanding how you can help them achieve their goals.

Excellent listeners can recall relevant details mentioned earlier in the conversation and are consistently in tune with the customer’s emotions. This saves customers from repeating information, which adds friction to a conversation.

Five good reasons to practice the art of listening


 1. Reduce Customer Churn

Poor customer service has a high churn rate and is the second-biggest reason customers switch providers. Investing in customer experience is essential for success in today’s review-driven economy. And if 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience, you should be 86% more interested in ensuring you provide that to them. Listening to their feedback is the best way to keep up with customer demand and fulfil short- and long-term expectations.

2. Increase Customer Retention

When you listen to your customers, interactions tend to be smoother, as you’re both on the same page. This can lead to an increase in customer retention. Studies show that 91% of customers will remain with a provider after a good customer service call.

3. Listening opens up opportunities


Engaging and listening to customers improves customer satisfaction. It can also be an opportunity to open the conversation and let them know that you have other products or services that can provide solutions.

4. Create satisfying client conversations

The conversation naturally becomes personal when you actively listen to another person because you are invested in the dialogue. The client recognises you are connecting to their needs, creating a satisfying customer service experience.

5. Let the customer speak

If you are speaking, you can’t listen to someone else simultaneously. If you genuinely listen, you must remain quiet until the customer has finished explaining their problem. Even if you already know the solution, interrupting them makes you appear impatient. It’s better to wait until they have finished speaking, as you never know what information they may have that could alter the conversation.

Stay humble and patient

We all know how frustrating it can be to work with a client who knows they need your services but doesn’t understand what you offer. They don’t know the basics or understand the terminology and you need to hold their hand every step of the way. In these situations, it’s essential to demonstrate patience and remain humble. Every question is significant, so you need to value each one equally. Try to understand it from your client’s perspective by asking open-ended questions and paraphrasing their words to ensure comprehension.

When you listen to your customer feedback, you’re providing a window into managing customer experience and satisfaction, retaining customer loyalty, improving your products and services, reducing churn rates, and much more.

Listening to customers goes beyond hearing about their problems. It’s not about picking up the phone or responding; listening to customers is about connecting with them. It means carefully attending to their needs and understanding how you can assist them in reaching their objectives. Exceptional customer service is when you excel at listening.

The art of communication is incomplete without the transformative power of listening.

By honing our listening skills and cultivating a habit of active listening in our daily interactions, we can deepen our connections, foster empathy, and build stronger, more meaningful relationships. When you embrace the art of listening as the secret sauce of effective communication, you will see how it transforms all your interactions, one conversation at a time.

Writing in Esquire magazine in 1935, Ernest Hemingway offered this advice to young writers: ‘When people talk, listen completely… Most people never listen.’

Most people listen with the intent to reply. At Whippet, we genuinely listen, as miscommunication can lead to conflict and missed opportunities. We have learned that we gain more customer information by listening and observing than by talking. This gives us a starting point to simplify complex strategies and ensure they grasp them. If they don’t get it the first time, we listen and try again.

We value and respect our clients, so we listen to them and then understand how we can provide solutions. This enhances our credibility and fosters trust and transparency in our business relationships. 

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