My work with salespeople, sports teams, and PR/Messaging professionals has a common, frustrating theme:
Listening skills are not a strength.
Salespeople struggle to listen to coaching and mentoring. The average to below average sales reps also do not actively listen to clients and prospects. If they did, they certainly wouldn’t continue with the same approach. Instead, the sales reps would make it about them–the client or prospect.
The same seems to happen with athletes. The majority of athletes from youth sports to professionals probably aren’t great listeners. On the other hand, the peak performers listen well to coaches, teammates, and opponents then make adjustments accordingly.
When it comes to messaging, the average PR staffer appears to miss the mark when it comes to hearing or understanding what their target markets are saying and thinking. But the best PR/Messaging professionals listen to their clients and target audiences and craft messages accordingly.
Listening takes deliberate practice and an active rather than a passive approach. It takes some work and skill, but not so much that even the average person can’t do it. You don’t need to be blessed with an amazing talent to become a good listener, yet few people dedicate themselves to doing so.
It’s a shame because listening just a little bit will provide you with a competitive advantage.