This Is Why You Need To Listen Better

*The following is an excerpt from my newest book The Relationship Economy, Building Stronger Customer Connections In The Digital Age. Which just hit #1 on Amazon!


Myths Of Being A Good Listener

If your goal is to build an exceptional customer experience, creating better listening skills in today’s relationship disadvantaged society is critical. In their Harvard Business Review article, “What Great Listeners Actually Do,” authors Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman found that most people believe they are better-than-average listeners. They share the myth that people believe good listening comes down to: 

  1. Not talking when others are speaking 
  2. Letting others know you’re listening through facial expressions and verbal sounds (“mmm-hmm”) 
  3. Being able to repeat word for word what others have said. We have all been taught this practice and heard the following comment: “So, let me make sure I understand you. What you’re saying is . . . “


Research suggests that these behaviors fall far short of superior listening skills. The article cites a study comparing the best listeners to average listeners and identifying the characteristics that make an outstanding listener: 

  • Good listening is much more than being silent. It is actually the opposite; people perceive the best listeners to be those who periodically ask questions that stimulate further discovery and insight. Sitting silently nodding does not provide sure evidence that a person is listening. Good listening was consistently seen as a two-way dialog. The best conversations were active. 
  • “Good listening included interactions that build a person’s self-esteem. The best listeners made the conversation a positive experience for the other party, which doesn’t happen when the listener is passive. Good listeners made the other person feel sup- ported and conveyed confidence in them.” 
  • “Good listening was seen as a cooperative conversation. In these interactions, feedback flowed smoothly in both directions with neither party becoming defensive about comments the other made. By contrast, poor listeners were seen as competitive—as listening only to identify errors in reasoning or logic, using their silence as a chance to prepare their next response. That might make you an excellent debater, but it doesn’t make you a good listener. Good listeners may challenge assumptions and disagree, but the person being listened to feels the listener is trying to help, not wanting to win an argument.” 
  • “Good listeners tended to make suggestions. Good listening invariably included some feedback provided in a way others would accept and that opened up alternative paths to consider.”


Don’t Be A Sponge Be A Trampoline 

This was my favorite part of the HBR article: “While many of us have thought of being a good listener being like a sponge that accurately absorbs what the other person is saying, instead, what these findings show is that good listeners are like trampolines. They are someone you can bounce ideas off of—and rather than absorbing your ideas and energy, they amplify, energize, and clarify your thinking. They make you feel better not merely passively absorbing, but by actively supporting. This lets you gain energy and height, just like someone jumping on a trampoline.”


The Relationship Economy Hits #1The Relationship Economy Book Amazon, The DiJulius Group

We would like to thank everyone for helping The Relationship Economy hit #1 on Amazon. We greatly appreciate all your support, from ordering it to sharing it all over social media as a must read. I have one more favor to ask. If you have read it, I would greatly appreciate it if you could leave a review on Amazon

“In his newest book, John DiJulius brings his customer service expertise to bear on the question of relationships. How can we build better relationships with our customer that will keep them coming back for more? DiJulius offers a smart prescription that builds on traits you already have — empathy, vulnerability, hospitality, and authenticity — which will deepen your relationships not only with customers but also with family and friends, old and new.”

Daniel Pink, author of When, Drive, and To Sell Is Human


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About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.