The Science and Secrets of Effective Listening for Learning Professionals


One of the most critical skills to be an effective Learning Professional and keep up with the pace of our rapidly changing modern world, is very simply to listen.  As a Learning and Development Professional, this means listening to your participants, their managers and key stakeholders.  Tuning into their learning needs and motivators.

Listening is one of the most neglected L&D skills.  Yet with conscious effort and practice it is easy to improve and instantly reap the benefits.  Rediscover some fundamentals, with the science and secrets of effective listening.

What is Listening?

Some people think listening is what we do while waiting for our turn to talk. However, listening is a far more difficult task than simply ‘hearing’. Aside from breathing listening is the second most activity that humans engage in. However, most of us are not good listeners.

Studies reveal that we normally operate at 25% of our listening capacity. Even where we devote full concentration to listening, we cannot listen at 100% efficiency unless the message is urgent and important enough to sustain our attention.

Effective Listening

Effective listening skills are crucial to successful communication in the workplace. Good listening is an active, integrated communication skill that demands energy and expertise.

To listen effectively we must hear and select information from the speaker, give it meaning, determine how we feel about it, and respond in a matter of seconds. We must also understand the speaker’s purpose which influences the way we listen, and how we perceive what is said.

Effective communication exists between two people when the listener interprets and understands the speaker’s message in the same way the speaker intended it.

To be a first class communicator it is vital to harness the strategies, tips and tricks for active and effective listening. This is useful for anyone who wants to sharpen their listening skills and hold more effective conversations.

3 Listening Facts

#1 The average person talks at a rate of about 125 to 175 words per minute, while we can listen at a rate of up to 450 words per minute. That’s plenty of ‘downtime’ to think of other things while someone else speaks.

#2 Listening and listening-related abilities such as understanding, open-mindedness, and supportiveness constitute the single dimension upon which people make judgments about communication competence.

#3 In a spoken message, 55% of the meaning is translated nonverbally, 38% is indicated by the tone of voice, while only 7% is conveyed by the words used.  Listening is more than words – listen to what is said and what is NOT said.

As the science suggests, we all have work to do.  Effective listening requires constant and consistent effort.  

How effective is your listening NOW?

Use the Initial Skills Assessment to review current skills and help tune up your listening effectiveness.

Listen and Be Listened To, by Catherine Mattiske is a great way to fine-tune your listening skills, starting today!  This bite-sized, instant learning is available in Book, digital Learning and Live Session formats.  All with downloadable workbook and free tools!

L&D Professionals use the ID9 Intelligent Design System in parallel with effective listening during meetings and learning programs to really tune into their participants and ensure their needs and motivations are the center of every learning experience, every time.