Why Listening Will Help Your Career

Do you listen more and talk less at work? Here's why learning to listen will impact your career trajectory!

Not everyone exercises their ability to listen. In fact, listening is a top intangible trait I look for when hiring new resume writers and career coaches for my team. In our business, listening to our clients is key. We need to understand your career goals, professional struggles and career history. If we're not actively listening to you and responding in a way that helps you reach your goals, we'll be ineffective; which is why I value the ability to listen when adding to my team.

While being a resume writer or career coach requires listening, I don't believe our industry is unique in valuing this skill. Whether you're in a client facing role or are working with an internal team, the ability to listen is necessary at all levels.

What Are You Missing By Over Talking

When you talk more than you listen, you miss out on learning from others, expanding your base of knowledge and helping your internal and external customers. Listening to someone else not only shows them that you value their input but also allows you to understand their perspective and needs.

If you're not an effective listener you probably feel frustrated when others are not responding to you the way you'd like. However, you cannot be upset at your audience.

By not listening to them, you send a message that you don't care about their needs and will simply do what you feel is best. In turn, they will begin to tune you out, engage with you less, and if they're an external customer, they'll ultimately stop doing business with you.

The frustration you feel from not listening is something you can control by choosing to engage with people in a different fashion.

Learn How To Listen

Listening is more than sitting silently while someone else blabs at you. Listening involves engaging, taking notes if necessary and asking questions. Engaging and asking questions is very different than overpowering a conversation. Listening requires back and forth exchange. The next time you have a meeting focus on these areas:

  • Don't simply wait for your turn to talk.
  • Be thoughtful about what your audience is talking about. Do they need help, advice, or action from you or are they simply venting? Base your responses to their needs.
  • If the conversation is surrounding a business concept, plan, customer engagement or team project, take notes. Jot down everyone's responsibilities for the project, timeline commitments and any other deliverables discussed, as well as next steps and action items. Compile the notes in a brief email and send it out to all attendees.
  • Always try to understand the other person's point of view. Listen to what they are trying to tell you versus what you “think” they mean. Unless you're a mind reader, you probably don't inherently know what another person means before they say it.

Engaging In The Right Conversations And Listening Will Help Your Career

As you sharpen your listening skills you'll simultaneously help your career. Colleagues, customers, and management will gravitate towards you when you have good listening skills.

People like to be heard. They enjoy bouncing ideas off of someone who provides value. As you become more of a sounding board for your team, you will also become an informal leader. You'll gain the trust of your boss and team if you're able to help problem solve, launch and manage projects and provide value to both internal and external customers.

Becoming a sounding board doesn't mean engaging in office gossip and gripe sessions. As you become a better listener you'll need to exercise discretion when engaging with peers. Being a go-to person for professional conversations is great for your career. Becoming the garbage weigh station is not. Surround yourself with professional peers who value your intellect, not your ability to listen to whining.

Your career success certainly hinges on your skills and abilities, but your interpersonal skills come into play as well. If you're not able to effectively communicate and listen to others, you'll fall behind in your career progression, so tune in and engage! As you become a better listener you'll find yourself making a positive impact on your peers, managers, and organization. Success will follow.

Need To Sharpen Your Skills

As a professional, you may be so focused on your certifications, education and improving your day to day business skills that you miss out on the number one reason people are promoted and hired; communication. All things being equal, an employer will be drawn to an effective communicator with a professional presence and polish. Using fillers, (think um and like), or simply delivering messages that aren't impactful, hurts your career progression. Working with a Mentor Happy Industry Certified Career Coach will help you iron out your communication issues. Your coach will have professional experience in your field and knows exactly what is and isn't appropriate for your industry's communication style. Step up your game and polish your communication skills! Let's Do This!

About The Author

Recognized nationally as an industry leader in resume writing and career coaching, Jeanna McGinnis, CPRW is the Director of Client Triumph at Mentor Happy and a recognized Career Coach for Forbes Coaches Council. Jeanna previously held the position of AVP, Career Strategy with our parent company, A Players Executive Search Group Inc. where she remains a board member and active leader. Leveraging more than 16 years of experience directing hiring practices, career development and outplacement programs for multiple Fortune 100 companies, Jeanna and the Mentor Happy team are refreshing how busy professionals brand, market and drive their careers. Please connect with Jeanna on LinkedIn or the Mentor Happy team on