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How many people really listen to what you say?


When Dave Sumner Smith, the CEO at Next Dimension Media (a company operating many LinkedIn Groups), posed the question in a discussion, the most common number he heard was TWO.

What would be your answer? How many people in your life, do you believe, attentively listen to what you say and genuinely want to follow your thoughts?



Listening might sound like a common skill, but when people are asked whether they feel listened to, being a great listener seems rather rare and precious. So precious that Forbes.com website identified it as one of the top 10 skills sought by employers, „found in 9 out of 10 most in-demand jobs“.


What if we now turn the question round and ask you: How great a listener do you think you are? Would other people count you among those who listen to them?

Curious to know? Ask them! Ask your partner, colleagues or best friends how they perceive you as a listener, and when they are giving you their answers, practise listening.



Attentive listening


Attentive listening is listening for understanding, as opposed to listening for forming your response.

When you listen for understanding, you are trying to follow how the other person thinks, feels and acts, and gain greater understanding of their perspective.

As soon as you get busy with your own thoughts and feelings, or you start thinking about what you want to say, you stop listening attentively.



Brush up your listening skill


Would you like to listen attentively more often?

Practise it, for example, when talking to your partner, child, friend, colleague or anybody who you would genuinely like to listen to. After having a talk, assess for yourself how it went: did you mostly listen for understanding, following what the other person was saying? Or were you most of the time busy with your own thoughts and preparing your response?

If you assess your listening a few times, it is likely to start improving. You will also develop an automatic mental alert that will remind you when you stop listening. If you realize that your attention has switched to yourself and your response, you can switch it back and try to listen for understanding again.


Listening is a skill you can improve. And once you feel confident about being an attentive listener, don´t forget to add it to your professional profiles and CVs!





= listening to understand



= listening to respond


While you are listening, you are trying to develop greater understanding of the other person´s thoughts and feelings – of their perspective.





While you are listening, you are busy with your own thoughts and feelings, or the impact of the other person´s words on you, and you are preparing what you are going to say or do.

Full attention.


Divided or low attention.


You are asking questions for further understanding.



You are interrupting to make your own points.


The other person is likely to feel listened to.



The other person probably does not feel listened to.

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