Generally speaking people are either readers or listeners and we find that it is usually a waste of time to talk to a reader. He only listens after he has read. It is equally a waste of time to give a detailed written communication to a listener. He can only grasp what it is all about through the spoken word. In the business world, however, the successful businessman has got to train himself to be both a good listener and a good reader.
Most of the barriers to effective communications can be overcome if people realize the need to listen carefully and attentively. Richard Hubbell, who had undertaken research in the subject, informs us that 98% of what a man learns in his life time is learnt through his eyes or his ears. If this statement is even partially true then our educational system, with its emphasis on acquiring knowledge through reading, is unbalanced. And this defect seems to have been noticed for most educational reforms in recent years have begun to lay stress on educating with the help of audio-visual aids.
Since a successful businessman must keep himself not only abreast of knowledge in his field but must know all that is going on in his organization it is very necessary that he should learn to be a good listener. Some experts believe that the ability to â€˜listenâ€™ is so important in business and industry that in the future employers will first find out the â€˜listening indexâ€™ of a recruit before deciding to employ him. It is said â€œone bad listener can cause more damage in a complex economy than all good listeners can compensate for.â€?
A manager must be a good listener for it has been estimated that he spends, on an average , 25 or more percent of his working time in listening. Yet, it has been found, that managers listen at only about 25% efficiency. Attentive listening is, also not enough. Retaining what is heard is equally important. According to experts we retain 50% of what we hear and 48 hours later that drops another 50%.
Listening is closely linked with perception, for while we use that ear for listening it is really in the mind that the message is perceived. And it is the mind that decides whether we should listen attentively , half attentively, critically or with concentration. It also decides whether the message should be retained or forgotten.