Effective communication is vital to the success of a business. Nothing gets done without communication, be it via email, reports, meetings or one-on-one conversations. However, professionals often undervalue communication when they are building skill sets for their future employment. Sure, you can learn how to prepare reports, give good meetings and even build a functional vocabulary of business terminology, but great communication skills include knowing how to listen.

The best way to hone your listening skills is practice. With the online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC), you have access to courses designed specifically to target effective communication skills. Discover better ways to actively listen while earning an MBA degree to become a more effective employee or a more attractive job candidate.

Language Makes the World Go ‘Round

Language was developed as a means of passing information from one person to another. In modern technological environments, this is readily symbolized by the data flow within a network. One device passes a package of data; the other device acknowledges receipt and asks for another. Someone is talking and someone is listening.

Humans spend nearly three-quarters of their time during waking hours engaged in communication, the majority of which is spent listening (or should be). Yet, many constantly disregard the importance of listening in their interactions with others, neglecting to fully acknowledge this critical part of communication.

Gartner Research discusses some workplace trend predictions, from new manager necessities to generative AI. Each of these trends require functional listening skills in assessing and allocating resources, understanding and utilizing technological and social systems, or acquiring and processing information. An individual’s ability to listen carefully and interpret incoming information to make important business decisions is vitally important to their success within an organization.

The 2023 Corporate Recruiters Survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) also lists communication as one of the top skills employers look for when hiring today and will continue to seek in the next five years. For people in leadership or management positions, these skills are essential when building camaraderie amongst subordinates and peers.

How to Listen

The first and most important step in learning how to listen is to stop talking. Receive data from others. Acknowledge that you received it, and if necessary, summarize it back to them so they understand that you’ve heard what they have to say. Avoid thinking about what you’re going to have for lunch or whether you dropped off your dry cleaning that morning. Additional tips include:

  • Pay attention
  • Make eye contact
  • Interact with them as they talk to you
  • Provide them the same courtesy that you hope they will give you when you are talking

Listening isn’t just about hearing their words. It’s also about noticing how the speaker is saying those words:

  • What sort of body language do they have?
  • Are they speaking loudly?
  • What are the ideas behind their words?
  • There is always some implied interpretation of the data they are presenting — how does that inference color the information they are giving you?

Listening involves interaction. Whether you are an employee or a business leader, you want to be heard when you speak with a group or a single individual. If you are delivering a report to your supervisor, are you being heard? If you are speaking to subordinates, are they understanding what you are attempting to communicate?

Remember that communication is a two-way transmission: Someone talks, and someone listens. When you are the listener, remember that you are receiving information. You can certainly acknowledge and respond in a way that keeps the conversation focused on the topic at hand, ask yourself if you are helping the speaker effectively communicate by pushing the discussion elsewhere.

Enhance Your Communication Skills With an MBA

Ready to dive in and become a more active listener? Enrolling in TAMU-CC’s online MBA program opens the door to courses on leadership and effective management strategies — studies that help you develop excellent listening skills. An MBA degree not only helps you become better listeners but also offers a strong job outlook for those looking to change careers or positions. Better communication can lead to promotions, better relationships with your peers and even higher job satisfaction.

Listening builds community. When people feel that they have been heard, they are more likely to speak again. Employees then become more invested and take pride in an organization that values what they have to say. Find your voice — and your ears — with an MBA degree today.

Learn about the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi online MBA program.