Being successful in any communication field is, I would argue, about 40 percent dependent on communicating well and 60 percent dependent on effectively receiving what’s being communicated to you. You need to be a good listener.
I’ve been some form of journalist since 2005, which is long enough to know that being a good writer is important, but no one will care how well you write if you can’t listen well enough to know what the hell you’re talking about.
Listening, however, is hard; at least empathetic listening is. What’s that? I’ll let Tony Valdes, writing for The Art Of Manliness, explain:
[Empathetic listening] is the ideal. We are able to set aside internal and external distractions so as to listen without judgment or interruption. We are emotionally and mentally invested and provide verbal and nonverbal feedback to the speaker.
Tony, who has his BA in rhetoric and communication, is in the midst of a three-part series over on that site on how to be a better listener. Even if you consider yourself a good listener, I encourage you to check out the two parts that have already been published. It’s full of interesting tips and observations, such as:
Most of us probably received a minimum of twelve years of instruction on how to write well, yet it is a skill that is only used in approximately 9% of the average person’s daily communication. Reading often receives between six and eight years of formal instruction, yet it only accounts for 16% of our communication. Speaking receives a paltry one year of attention, perhaps two years if we’re lucky, and it is only 30% of our communication. Listening, however, often receives less than a half-year of formal training, yet it makes up 45% of our daily communication.
That’s an extremely important 45 percent, too. Most of my communicative output throughout the day is predicated upon what I’ve learned — listened to — from someone else. I wager that’s probably the case for most other people, too.
Anyway, like I said, go read Tony’s posts.