The Guide to Strategic Listening

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BetterUp Studios

10 min

Child drawing of birds and clouds

Intro to strategic listening

People say a lot of things, but how do we separate the noise from the substance? The key is strategic and active listening. Learning how to hear what people are telling you builds relationships and success.

To learn how to improve your life and productive relationships through strategic listening, keep reading.

What is strategic listening?

  • A nonjudgmental place of enjoyment.
  • A tool to help cultivate connections and to learn new perspectives.

Why is it important?

  • It fosters decision-making skills. Good listeners make better decisions, because they have listened to all of the information and are able to make better informed judgments.
  • It makes us better leaders. Leaders have to be effective decision-makers, and effective at making their team feel heard.
  • It cultivates collaboration. When we listen to one another, our teams are more productive and satisfying.
  • It builds trust. When people feel heard, they feel connected and begin to develop trust. People can only be heard when you know how to listen.

What does it look like in my life?

  • Knowing how to sell an idea because you've listened to the needs of the client and the target market.
  • Becoming more empathetic because being a better listener has given you more perspective into the emotional lives of others.
  • Seeing the world from multiple perspectives.
  • Improving a relationship through better communication built on active listening.

How do I maximize it?

  • Know yourself. Know who you are and how you see the world. You're more likely to hear what someone is saying who agrees with your vision, and now you're equipped to deal with this block to strategic listening.
  • Shhh. Keep your mind and yourself quiet. Don't interrupt and truly be present when someone else is talking.
  • Withhold judgment. Don't waste your energy or attention on making judgment calls. Just listen.
  • Practice. Practice paying active attention to gain stamina.

A deeper look...

  • Part of our listening deficit is caused by the fact that we think much faster than we talk.
  • Listening consistently requires perseverance and emotional regulation.

Featured Research

Graham Bodie, PhD, Associate Professor of Interpersonal Communication and often published researcher.
Laura Janusik, PhD, MBA, Professor of Communication and published both nationally and internationally.
Dr. Margarete Imhof

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BetterUp Studios creates and curates research-backed content, activities, and tools to help people everywhere pursue their lives with greater clarity, purpose, and passion.

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