Master the art of active listening: boost your soft skills

Communication skills are the ability to effectively convey information to others through speaking, writing, and nonverbal cues. These skills are essential in both personal and professional settings, as they allow individuals to effectively express their thoughts, ideas, and needs, as well as to understand the communication of others. 

Practical communication skills include active listening, clear and concise language, nonverbal cues, and adapting communication style to the audience and context. Improving communication skills can lead to better relationships, more effective problem-solving, and tremendous success in both personal and professional contexts.

Communication skills: the key to success in any industry

Effective communication is crucial in any industry. Whether working in a team, leading a company, or interacting with customers, communicating clearly and effectively can make the difference between success and failure. This article will explore the importance of communication skills and provide tips on improving them.

Why communication skills matter

Effective communication is essential in any professional setting. It helps to build trust, establish relationships, and resolve conflicts. It also plays a critical role in decision-making, problem-solving, and achieving goals. In fact, a study by the Harvard Business Review found that communication skills are the most crucial factor in determining an individual’s success in the workplace.

Effective communication also helps to create a positive work culture. When employees can communicate effectively with one another, they are more likely to collaborate, share ideas, and work together towards a common goal. This leads to increased productivity, job satisfaction, and employee retention.

Active listening is attentively listening to and understanding a speaker’s message. It is a critical communication skill and can significantly impact the effectiveness of interactions.

Some statistics on active listening include:

Communication skills are highly valued by employers, as shown by various studies.

  • The National Association of Colleges and Employers report rated communication as the most essential skill for new hires, with a score of 4.56 on a 5-point scale.
  • Additionally, 50-80% of our workdays are spent communicating. 
  • Effective communication can improve productivity by 25% by increasing employee engagement and connection with colleagues.
  • In the IT services industry, 57% of surveyed security professionals listed communication as the top required soft skill.
  • Furthermore, a LinkedIn survey in the United States revealed that employers’ most sought-after soft skill is communication.

How active listening can help you

  • Active listening involves hearing the words spoken and understanding and interpreting the underlying meaning and emotions.
  • By actively listening, you can improve your communication and relationships with others.
  • Active listening can lead to greater understanding and empathy and help build trust and rapport with others.
  • Active listening is a crucial component of emotional intelligence. It can help you to be more aware of your own emotions and those of others.
  • Active listening can also improve your problem-solving and decision-making abilities, allowing you to gather more information and perspectives.
  • To master the art of active listening, it’s vital to practice paying close attention to the speaker without interrupting or becoming distracted.
  • Reflecting back on what you’ve heard, asking clarifying questions, and summarizing the main points can also be effective active listening strategies.
  • Active listening is a skill that can be developed and improved over time with practice.
  • Organizations that foster a culture of active listening tend to have more productive and engaged employees and better overall performance.
  • Active listening is not just a soft skill but also a complex skill that can be measured and improved through training, self-reflection, and feedback.

Stories about how active listening has helped people at work

  1. A manager at a retail store was having trouble communicating with one of her employees. The employee seemed disengaged and unresponsive during meetings and conversations. The manager decided to practice active listening by focusing entirely on the employee during their interactions and asking clarifying questions to ensure she understood their perspective. Through this approach, she discovered that the employee was dealing with personal issues outside of work impacting their performance. By showing empathy and understanding, the manager worked with the employee to create a plan to address their concerns and improve their work.
  2. A customer service representative was dealing with a demanding customer who was angry and frustrated. Rather than becoming defensive, the representative used active listening techniques to understand the customer’s concerns. They acknowledged the customer’s feelings and returned their complaints to confirm that they had been apprehended. By doing this, the representative defused the situation and found a solution that satisfied the customer.
  3. A team leader at a tech company needed help to get input from a team member who was usually quiet during meetings. The team leader made a point to listen to the team member during their one-on-one conversations actively and asked questions to encourage them to share their thoughts. Over time, the team member began to open up and share their ideas, which led to new and innovative solutions for the team’s projects.

How to improve communication skills

There are several ways to improve communication skills. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Listen actively: One of the most critical aspects of effective communication is the ability to listen actively. This means giving the speaker your full attention, asking clarifying questions, and providing feedback.
  • Speak clearly: Another critical aspect of effective communication is speaking clearly. This means using simple, direct language, avoiding jargon, and being mindful of your tone of voice.
  • Use nonverbal cues: Nonverbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions, can also play a critical role in communication. Being aware of your own nonverbal cues, as well as those of others, can help to convey your message more effectively.
  • Practice empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. When communicating with others, try to put yourself in their shoes and consider how they may feel.
  • Seek feedback: Finally, seeking feedback on your communication skills is essential. Ask colleagues, supervisors, or mentors for their input on improving.


Effective communication is crucial in any industry. By improving your communication skills, you can build stronger relationships, achieve your goals, and succeed in your career.