Speaking of Listening

141106 Listening-01

By Resha Kreischer-Anderson

Being part of a rapidly growing company gives me the chance to review plenty of resumes. And I’m often struck by the emphasis candidates place on their verbal skills without a single mention of their listening skills. Repeatedly, I see descriptions such as effective communicator, dynamic presenter or strong verbal abilities.

Why aren’t more applicants showcasing their listening aptitude?

In my opinion, it’s because our society prioritizes speaking over hearing. This imbalance means that many companies are probably underutilizing or not hiring great employees. As Susan Cain writes in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking:

Because of their [introverts] inclination to listen to others and lack of interest in dominating social situations, introverts are more likely to hear and implement suggestions. Having benefited from the talents of their followers, they are then likely to motivate them to be even more proactive. Introverted leaders create a virtuous circle of proactivity.

(You should definitely read her book for an in-depth analysis of people who are more inclined to listen first and talk second.)

Of course, I am interested in candidates who are gifted and spirited orators! But I’m equally interested in people who are involved, thoughtful and inclusive listeners.

These individuals have a knack for making others feel comfortable and appreciated. And by being approachable and empathetic, good listeners promote an environment of risk-free brainstorming and idea sharing that encourages their colleagues to be actively engaged in the moment at hand.

As our company continues growing, we’re looking for applicants who are proud listeners. I — for one — will be sure to keep my ear to the ground.

Watch Cain give a TED Talk about this subject.

Categories: Essay

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