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Why you should listen


Techniques Listening > Why you should listen

Building trust | Getting things done | See also


Listening is not just being polite and can add a great deal of value for the listener. You can also get a lot done.

Great leaders, coaches and facilitators are also great listeners.

Building trust

People who listen are trusted more than those who grab the talking stick and barge straight into chatter. Trust is the grease of changing minds and listening is the key.


If you listen first to others and more to others, then your credibility with them (and with other listeners) will go up. They are perceived as competent, capable and working with others rather than against them. Good leaders are good at listening and good listeners are seen as potentially good leaders.

It was said of Gladstone, a 19th century British Prime Minister, that if you had dinner with him, you came away believing that he was the most intelligent person in the country. However, if you had dinner with Disraeli, a peer who also became Prime Minister, you came away believing that you were the most intelligent person in the country. Clearly, Disraeli knew how to listen better than Gladstone.


Listening alone is a good supportive activity that people appreciate, especially when they are upset or otherwise concerned. Listening shows respect and empathy for other people. By listening, you are sending a message that says 'You are important to me. I respect you.' Listening thus boosts their sense of identity.

Getting things done

As well as building trust, listening also lets you achieve your goals.


To paraphrase Yogi Berra, 'you can hear a lot just by listening'. Listening gives you lots of information that can be useful, both now and in the future. Especially if you can guide what the person is saying, you can achieve much with very little talk.


Very significantly, if you listen to other people, they are more likely to listen to you. From the exchange principle, your support of them obliges them to return support to you, which you can then use to achieve your goals.

See also

Exchange principle


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