The Importance of Listening Skills

“When it comes to listening as a leader, it’s important to listen to what they say. Most of us don’t do a great job of that, but the power is to ask the question, what else and what does that mean?”

Oscar Trimboli


While three out of four people think they are an above average listener, Oscar Trimboli’s research shows otherwise. In fact, 50% of people are average listeners and nowhere near three-quarters of people are well above average.


Note: It is no coincidence that the words LISTEN and SILENT have exactly the same letters!


But, before you begin to listen in on today’s The Culture of Leadership (TCoT) Podcast, where we discuss the importance of listening skills, Oscar strongly suggests you do these three things:

  • Switch off notifications
  • Drink a glass of water
  • Take three deep breaths


Now you are better prepared to learn how to get four hours a week back from learning to listen. Before we start, however, it is interesting to acknowledge that Listening is a skill we are told to do but it is not a skill we are traditionally taught – even though it is something we spend 50% of the day doing.


Have you read: Thoughts from a Life-Long Learner – Stuart McLaren


Oscar Trimboli is an author and host of the Apple award-winning podcast, Deep Listening and he is on a quest to create 100 million deep listeners in the world. Oscar has experienced firsthand the transformational impact leaders and organizations can have when they listen beyond words and is passionate about using the gift of Listening to bring positive change in workplaces.


He consults with organizations such as American Express, AstraZeneca, Cisco, Google, HSBC, L’Oreal, PwC and Stryker helping chairs, boards and executives in their teams ‘listen to what is unsaid’ by the customers and employees. Oscar lives in Sydney with his wife Jenny where he helps first-time runners and ocean swimmers conquer their fears and contributes to the cure of cancer as part of Can Too, a cancer research charity. 


Through his research, Oscar has found that there is a lot to be learnt from ancient wisdom. Whether it is our indigenous communities, Inuits in North America, or jungle tribes all around the world, listening is something we all know how to do, we have just forgotten how to do it. “The research I’ve done is western English-speaking workplace cultures,” says Oscar. “I can talk to that, but on the secondary research, academic reviews that I’ve done in Eastern Europe and South America, as an example, talking over the top of somebody and a Westerner would perceive that as interruption is actually a sign of very good listening and a tight relationship.”


Have you read: How To Communicate and Be Heard – Amber Daines


Listening is relational, situational and contextual and Oscar has developed a Listening Quiz which has contributed to his fundamental research. Well over 12,000 people have taken the quiz and through working with data scientists, market research companies and academics, Oscar has developed the four villains of listening known as the D.I.L.S. of Listening – dramatic, interrupting, lost and shrewd.


During today’s conversation Oscar uses Brendan as a live case study which all starts with the question “How do I be more present with people?”


Join the conversation to see the 125-900 rule in action where the very first thing Brendan said wasn’t what he actually meant, learn the key cue to listen for, understand body language and ask powerful questions. If teaching people how to speak as a leader was the communication skill of the 20th century, Oscar believes that the 21st century will be led by people who can listen beyond the words, to start to listen to what is not said…


The complete interview can be listened to here, on audio platforms, or watched here, on The Culture of Leadership (TCoT) YouTube channel.


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