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  • Writer's pictureAnna Conrad

Overcoming Listening Roadblocks

As an executive coach, listening is my most important skill. It is what makes me successful, and it is also what can ruin my business if I fail to do it well.

I have discovered that listening is also one of the easiest things to do. There is a relief to give up control of the conversation and truly make it about the other person. I've found that clients will usually solve their problem by talking while I simply listen. The interesting thing is that in these discussions, I am praised as being an excellent problem solver! But all I've done is listen without interrupting or trying to solve their problem.

Everyone has the ability to have a skillful conversation, but most people are unaware of how they get in their own way. Below are a few Listening Roadblocks (there are a lot more!) to watch out for:

  • Interrupting the speaker.

  • Getting ahead of the speaker and finishing her thoughts.

  • Saying, "Yes, but..." as if you have made up your mind.

  • Feeling you’re not valuable if you’re not actively contributing.

  • Trying to prove how smart you are.

  • Assuming the other person can’t come up with the answer.

Many people have to talk through issues and articulate their cognitive process. Be patient. Most doctors (at least, good doctors) will tell you that if you give the patient enough time, s/he will tell you exactly what's wrong and why. The problem is that many doctors who are over-eager to diagnose and prescribe without listening. And most well-meaning supervisors do the same thing.

To learn more about our Listening Skills virtual workshop, contact us at


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