Though many young and aspiring entrepreneurs believe they can “talk their way” into their goals, and that money is all they need to be successful. Both of these beliefs are inherently flawed, and in reality, will only get you so far in life. The real success for entrepreneurs comes through learning to communicate constructively and can help you strengthen your business endeavors in an honest and stable manner. The critical skill you need to succeed as an entrepreneur, and really, as any person in business, is active listening.
What is Active Listening?
Before you can hone your skill and become a better active listener, you need to understand what it means. Essentially, active listening is exactly what it sounds like; it’s the act of listening to someone entirely. It is so easy to multitask during skype and zoom calls in the modern era or while on the phone with someone. It can be incredibly tempting to think about your next “pitch” while someone is talking, or to tab over during a skype call to work on the project that you’ve been trying to finish for most of the day.
Active listening is the opposite of those temptations. Active listening is to give the speaker your full attention, pay attention, read between the lines, read their body language, and ensure that you understand what the speaker is saying. Active listening aims to understand the information that they have shared with you through listening and asking questions. You should never interrupt them to ask questions, as too often they would have answered it for you throughout whatever they were saying. Instead, you should be listening, and when there is a natural break in the conversation or presentation, you should ask your question.
Listening isn’t just about the words shared with you verbally; it’s about understanding their facial expressions while they speak, what their postures tell you, and other cues that are non-verbal throughout the conversation. Between this attention to detail, and asking questions, you can become a much better active listener.
Why is it Important?
No matter what the situation is, may it be business or just interpersonal relationships, active listening is an essential and critical skill to learn. It becomes much harder to develop any relationship, business or otherwise. The reason it is so essential to be actively listening and to be good at active listening is because of misunderstandings. Without understanding what someone is saying, or feeling about a situation completely, you could wind up misunderstanding — and thus miss handling — a situation entirely.
Cooperation is the heart of all businesses and business endeavors, but you can find yourself struggling to communicate without understanding your team and the problems at hand. Whether you’re a small business owner, an aspiring entrepreneur, or a CEO, people will wonder if you are truly qualified for your position without good communication skills. Leaders who are poor communicators find it harder to keep employees and open healthy dialogues with those around them, and will begin to suffer under the strain of this single shortcoming.