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Listening Tips For Productivity And Success

Updated on June 20, 2013
jpcmc profile image

I'm a dad, husband, and Christian first. The rest is just life's add-ons: an educator, administrator, learning & development professional.


Many misinterpret communication as merely talking. When we fail to listen, we fail to communicate.

This is based on an actual radio conversation between a U.S. Navy
aircraft carrier (U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln) and Canadian authorities
off the coast of Newfoundland in October, 1995. (The radio
conversation was released by the Chief of Naval Operations on
10/10/95 authorized by the Freedom of Information Act.)

Canadians: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the South to
avoid collision.

Americans: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the
North to avoid a collision.

Canadians: Negative. You will have to divert your course 15
degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

Americans: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again,
divert YOUR course.

Canadians: No, I say again, you divert YOUR course.


Canadians: This is a lighthouse. Your call.

(taken from

The conversation above is hilarious. Moreover, it's a great backdrop when we talk about communication. Most people think that communication is all about talking. When this happens, they fail to value the power of listening and fail to communicate altogether.

It is quite curious how we often neglect to listen to others. As social beings, communication seems to be natural – allow me to rephrase that….talking seems to be natural. However, to properly communicate, we need to actively listen to others.

As humans, we have a tendency to “Lock On” to information that we think favors our side and/or to “Lock Out” information that we perceive as worthless. And the truth is devoured by our ego and we spiral down into a selfish “communication” mode.

Stephen Covey, author of the Seven Habits Of Highly Effective people once wrote that we should “seek first to understand then to be understood”. As simple as that, we are drawn to realize our need to humble ourselves and take the time to listen.

The value of the Pause

When business communication (or any other type of communication) gets out of hand, we need to pause and reorient ourselves. It takes a great deal of will power to do so but in the end having it otherwise will be more detrimental. Pausing before we respond gives us time to evaluate the situation and the circumstances. It provides a time to collect our composure and to sort through our own handles. No wonder a lot of psychologists will advice us to count to 10. It’s not the numbers! It’s the value of the “pause” that reflects the power of listening.. 

Empty out our scripts

If we look more intently at ourselves, we will find that we often rehearse scripts of retorts and rebuttals instead of actually listening.  We wait for words suitable to inject our predetermined response.  This is not active listening but a self-centered way of communication.  Emptying our scripts encourages us to first listen and see things from the other person’s point of view. To engage in the conversation with an open mind we must let go of internal rehearsals. To enjoy the fruits of meaningful communication we must empty ourselves of the nagging desire to close our minds.

Resolving over winning

I haven’t met anyone who does not want to win. However, in communication, it’s not about winning an argument but resolving one. We need to relax our competitiveness and put on a more cooperative mood. Some argue better than others, and some simply won’t argue at all. We can always agree to disagree.

Avoiding LO/LO is not as easy as flipping through the channels when watching T.V. We are trying to drop a mental attitude that has been unconsciously accepted. Lock on/lock out is an attitude that has been imbibed through constant exposure. It is an action without the benefit of thought and reason. It robs us of the opportunity to create lasting and meaningful relationships.


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    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi there Au fait,

      The story is really funny but there is much truth about human nature seen in it. It's sad that many people miscommunicate simply because they fail to listen. Thank you for stopping by and voting up and clicking awesome. Nice of you to do so. Have a great day.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi Blond Logic. This hub is an eye-opener for me as well. We all have done something like this at one time or aotner - intentionally or not. But we learn and we grow along the way.

      Thank you for sharing your insights and the kind gestures of voting up and sharing. See you around.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 5 years ago from Brazil

      It's funny you know, often we read something like this and think, "I know someone just like that". The truth is I think we are all like this at some point. I am always ready with a quick on-liner and I often try and have the last word.

      Now that you have put this in black and white, I understand more what I am doing and the negative affect it can have.

      In my defense though, I would say I am open minded and listen to other people's views.

      Very interesting hub. 'voted up and interesting and shared.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 5 years ago from North Texas

      You are so right! Voted you useful and awesome!!

      So often people only stay quiet hoping whomever is talking will hurry up and finish so they can talk again. They do not listen to what is being said. The excellent example of the captain of the aircraft carrier was priceless.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello itakins. Thanks for dropping byu and sharing. She's my daughter, Yna

    • itakins profile image

      itakins 5 years ago from Irl

      Great article-one wondes how many real disasters could have been averted if people had listened!Gorgeous avatar too:)

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      I'm glad you like the article sir Michael. Listening is truly important. You can share this article with your branch personnel. Moreover, get them to share their ideas. This way you can also know how they feel about the subject.

    • profile image

      Michael Caguiron 6 years ago

      Hi sir!!! The hub is so pretty much sample for me..hope many people can read this...because communication is very important anywhere we on their situation the conversation is very about in little conversation? we can pause easily for better communication and ofcourse the power of listening.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi there sir Edward, the value of the pause is so profound and can change lives and relationships. I believe that meaningful relationships start with proper communication. And proper communication requires active listening. If only people would just take the time to shut up and listen, there will be more understanding. :)

      Thank you for leaving your insights.

    • profile image

      Edward Y. Laurencio II 6 years ago

      This is very nice sir. It was an easy read, yet the point is nagging! Thank you for emphasizing the value of listening. I believe that communication is subjective and personal in nature, yet we should learn to deal with it more objectively, that is, building and nourishing relationships, through the value of listening.:)

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello again, Ms. Mercado,

      Communication can either be written, oral/auditory or can even be visual in nature. Having a bird’s eye view of what communication is all about helps facilitate better understanding of other processes and skills that is part of communication – e.g., listening, speaking, writing, using of non-verbal cues. But definitely, to become better at communicating, improving listening skills is imperative.

      I'm really glad to read your first line "...we really need to help each other..." It's through this attitude of collective learning that we can foster significant development.

    • profile image

      Ma. Carmen M. Mercado 6 years ago

      I think Sir we really need to help each other to improve more on listening skills before helping us improve on communication.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi Brinafr3sh, wouldn't it be great if people just took the time to listen more?

    • Brinafr3sh profile image

      Brinafr3sh 6 years ago from West Coast, United States

      Thanks Jpcmc, nice hub. And I agree with you, if everyone would listen more then communication would be more simple to have.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Thanks for the praise sankari.nayagam.

    • sankari.nayagam profile image

      sankari.nayagam 6 years ago

      It’s the value of the “pause” that reflects the power of listening.. .. Liked it very much. Well written!!

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi Danette Watt. Thank you for taking the time to read my hub as well as the kind words. I'm glad I was able to bring out a smile, or in this case an LOL in you.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      LOL, I agree, that video is funny. I too had heard about that conversation between the Navy and the lighthouse. True or not, it does illustrate your points well, especially the last about having to be the winner.

      Great hub, good points well made.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Thanks for reading the hub tonymac04. And yes, the anecdote is not true, the US Navy denied it ever happened.

      Many problems could have been avoided if only people stop to listen more.

      Thanks for the link. The video was hilarious!

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 6 years ago from South Africa

      I really enjoyed this read, thank you. Listening is so crucial to effective communicaiton yet we all so often forget or don't bother to listen and thenwe wonder why we are not getting through to the other person.

      Thanks for sharing this.

      BTW the story you relate at the beginning has been told many times in slightly different forms, so personally I doubt that it really happened like that. The point is very true and useful, though. You might enjoy this video:

      Love and peace