Listening is not considered an art, but I've seen way too many examples of why it should be one.
Why do I say this?
Because most of us are terribly bad at listening. I was and still am guilty of this sometimes.
Try and think of the last time you actively listened to something (be it a piece of music or a podcast or whatever).
Now, is it recent or is it somewhere back in time you can't even remember how old you were?
Let's do the same exercise, but instead of a piece of content, try and think about the last time you actively listened to a person when they were talking to you.
Listening to understand what someone or something is telling us is hard. It's one of the hardest things you must do in life. And the reason it's hard is that, when you try and understand what someone is trying to tell you, there is a very very good chance that your own viewpoints will be challenged. And sometimes, that is really hard.
Listening to understand is also a trait that most managers seem to lack and it's an especially important one to have or work on.
How many times did you have a meeting where you desperately wanted to be heard but were met with almost predefined answers?
I know I was in this situation 4 years ago when my then line manager wouldn't listen to a thing I was telling him. All of his answers basically boiled down to "you have to be more mature about this". Of course, his idea of being mature was me not questioning the ethics of the company I was working in at that time.
And in remote work?
I can't state the importance of being able to understand what your client wants from you and for the client to understand what you need in order to get stuff done.
Sadly though, I find that often times people only listen to reply. You can have an idea that could become the next best app in the Play Store, but when you pitch it, you could be Gary Vee and these people wouldn't give you the time of day, because it doesn't matter what you say. They already have their answer. And it's never going to change.
So next time you're with someone and they're talking to you, listen. Don't just wait for your turn to answer, listen. They may be telling you something extremely mundane or they may be telling you something that's been draining their entire happiness and productivity. Instead of answering something along the lines of "stop complaining" or "yeah, we'll talk about it" (and you never do), try to figure out if you can provide an actually helpful solution or direct them to someone who can. You know what people who are snubbed like this get? Unhappiness. They get unhappiness. And a sense of being a burden -which later will result in lack of involvement, interest and of course - low productivity.
Especially when working remotely, listening is an important skill to master. It’s not just hearing (or reading) words; good listening means understanding and connecting with what the person intends to communicate and making sure they know you understand them.
Work on honing your listening skills in order to fully connect with others, improve learning and have a keener awareness of how others think and feel.
If you can do that, you’ll help create an environment where the people you work with feel valued and inspired to freely share with you.