Why is it more important to listen than to speak?

Active listening and assertive communication play an important role in our everyday communication, whether in a business or private context. Using these two skills together allows us to build deeper relationships and communicate more effectively.

The power of active listening and assertive communication

Communication is an essential part of our everyday lives, whether in business or in our private lives. But communication is not just about talking. In fact, listening is often more important than speaking. In this article, I will explore why this is so and explore the essence of active listening and assertive communication.

Why is listening more important than speaking?

Years ago, when I was offered the first position of responsibility, my boss told me after a few meetings: “Aletta, learn to listen!”

At the time I didn’t feel the weight and the reason for this statement, and I was even a little offended. Because I had so many exciting ideas, I was going from one creative idea to another, but I also wanted to bring the stars down from the sky. How I did it, I could not say, because I had not done any research, I had not studied the subject in depth and my professional knowledge was incomplete. I realised afterwards that this was not creativity on my part, but imagination. And by not listening to a more experienced professional, I was not only disrespectful, but I was also depriving myself of the opportunity to learn.

This is something that can be honed, as it is also a skill that can be learned with practice. It happens to many foals, but if we recognise and practice active listening, it’s amazing how much new information can come our way and we can benefit from it.

Listening allows us to understand the other person’s point of view and to respond better to communication situations.

Active listening is not just about understanding the words, but also the feelings and intentions behind them. This allows us to build deeper relationships and communicate and work more effectively.

For example, if a customer complains about a product, active listening can help us to understand the customer’s problem and find an effective solution. Ultimately, it is also an opportunity to grow. Active listening is not just listening to the words of the complaint, but also listening to the tone of the client’s voice, body language and other non-verbal cues that can help you understand the client and the problem. And we can solve a problem if we can define and analyse it. How can we even define what is step zero if we are offended and don’t even give ourselves a chance to understand what is causing the problem. You should not make an ego issue out of an opinion or a complaint.

Active listening

Active listening is not just about being quiet while the other person is talking.

In active listening, we focus our full attention on the speaker, giving feedback and asking questions to help us understand.

The keyword is UNDERSTANDING. We want to understand what the other party wants to communicate! This helps the speaker to feel that their point of view is valued and understood. Ideally, there is no other dialogue going on in your head, because then you are not mentally present. We are not open.

For example, if a colleague shares an idea for a new project, active listening involves listening carefully to their idea, nodding to indicate that you are following their train of thought and asking questions to understand it better. Not only does this help us to gain a better understanding of the idea itself and the motivation behind it, it also signals to the employee that we value their contribution. Often, the idea of a new product comes to mind not only when an employee thinks of it, sees something, hears something, but also when he receives feedback from partners that the current one no longer works. Isn’t it dangerous not to pay attention to the other person?

Assertive communication

Assertive communication means open, honest and direct communication, while respecting the rights and feelings of the other party. Assertive communication helps us to express ourselves effectively and manage conflicts without offending others. (note that you have the right to say NO).

For example, if you disagree with a colleague about a project, assertive communication can help you to express your opinion openly and honestly while respecting the other person’s point of view. For this assertive communication we can use “I-messages” such as “I feel that this approach will not be effective because…”. Always avoid being personal, don’t reflect on the person, but on what he says. Don’t qualify the person, qualify the idea – but back it up with concrete evidence.

Active listening and assertive communication in business

In business, active listening and assertive communication are key. Active listening can help us better understand and respond to the needs of customers, colleagues and managers. Assertive communication can help us to express our needs and opinions effectively, while respecting the other party’s rights and feelings.

A specific example mentioned earlier could be a customer who is dissatisfied with a product because it does not meet their expectations. Active listening means listening carefully to the customer’s complaint and trying to understand why they are not satisfied with the product. We can then use assertive communication to express our own point of view and propose a solution that is acceptable to both parties. The assertive communication strategy (as opposed to the aggressive one, where the focus is on “I want to win the conversation”), focuses on solving the problem and understanding each other, bringing points of view closer together.

Active listening and assertive communication in private life

In your private life, active listening can help you develop deeper and more valuable relationships with loved ones. Assertive communication supports us to express our feelings and needs openly and honestly, while respecting the other party’s feelings and rights.

For example, when talking with your partner about a conflict, active listening helps you to understand your partner’s point of view and to become emotionally closer to them. Assertive communication can help us to express our feelings and needs openly and honestly, while respecting the other party. I have yet to see an example where a solution has been reached by throwing mud, shouting, and everyone blowing their own horn. At least not one that was good for everyone or had a positive outcome in the long run. Of course, there is always a way, there has never been a way that there was no way at all… but it’s not all the same.. 🙂

So listening is often more important than speaking.

In fact, I have to say from my own experience that it is harder than talking. Active listening and assertive communication help us to communicate more effectively in both business and private life. These skills are designed to help you better understand the other person’s point of view, effectively express your own point of view and develop deeper relationships.

It all seems very simple when written down and read, it depends on the type of person, what is difficult for them, who finds it more difficult to practice and apply these techniques. It is a SKILL, just like reading comprehension, non-verbal communication, stress management. However, the good news is that if you are motivated and committed, this can be improved.

I am exaggerating when I say that I feel physical pain many times when I have to listen to points of view in silence and understanding – especially when they do not match mine, but more often than not I find myself saying to myself “Be quiet in your head, listen and try to understand why he says that…”. It is worth it though, because it is very useful to be open and receptive. And this skill (and attitude) is essential for effective lifelong learning. It plays an important role in personal and professional development. The ability to be open and receptive is essential as it helps us to take in new ideas, perspectives and experiences. It makes our lives richer and more fulfilling.

Thank you also for your attention today!

Good practice for ourselves!