Most Important Skill of Effective Communicators

Best practices in workplace communication: What is the most important
skill of effective communicators?
The importance of communication in the well being of an organization
can never be underestimated. In fact, it has a bearing on the long-term
sustainability of an organization as it allows managers to execute
varied fundamental functions pertaining to management including
planning, controlling, organizing and leading. It comes in handy in
enhancing the capacity of managers to execute their duties and
responsibilities. It goes without saying that all essential
communication has to be from and to the managers, in which case it has a
bearing on the implementation of decisions (Sipe & Frick, 2009). It is
worth noting, however, that communication underlines varied skills.
While all of them are fundamental in the achievement of the varied
functions of communication, there are variations in their importance.
Given the fundamental role it plays in communication, Listening skills
come as the most crucial communication skill.
There exists no universal or cross-cutting definition of listening
skills. However, listening may be defined as a term that encompasses the
process incorporating five elements including hearing, comprehension,
attending, responding, as well as remembering (Sipe & Frick, 2009). It
is worth noting that listening goes beyond hearing the words being
spoken by another individual and necessitates skills, as well as
practice so as to enhance its effectiveness (Worthington & Fitch-Hauser,
2012). Social theorists explain listening in terms of a conscious effort
that an individual makes pertaining to who, when, what, how, and why
listening may be attained. In business enterprises, listening comes as a
fundamental element to building an effective working relationship
between the management and staff, as well as among the employees.
Listening skills also have an impact on the interactions of an
organization with other businesses and customers. What makes listening
skills the most important skills in communication is the fact that it
serves the same purposes as communication.
First, listening comes as one of the most effective ways of gaining
information and facts about any fundamental aspect of a business. It
enhances the capacity of an individual to acquire facts, which he or she
can then use in making decisions that enhance the sustainability of the
business both in the long term and the short term (Worthington &
Fitch-Hauser, 2012). Communication does not merely involve talking to
other people or telling them what to do, rather it involves the
exploration of all ideas from the people and evaluating all aspects
pertaining to them. Deliberations can only be done through listening to
other peoples’ ideas and sharing thoughts, which then leas to the
determination of the best course of action (Worthington & Fitch-Hauser,
2012). In essence, communication can never occur without listening,
which makes it the most fundamental or important skill of effective
In addition, listening plays a crucial role in establishing trust
between two or more individuals. This happens in all environments, not
just in organizations or workplace environment. It goes without saying
that there is considerable difficulty in trusting an individual who does
not seem to listen, especially considering that one can never tell
whether such an individual has the overall objectives of the
organization at heart. It is worth noting that the smooth running of
affairs in an organization cannot occur unless the players trust each
other’s capabilities. This only occurs when individuals listen to each
other. Developing trust in most organizations involves paying close
attention to instructions given by superiors or the ideas of other
people. Listening to other people in an organization would enlighten an
individual about those people’s weaknesses and strengths with regard
to the project, which allows for collaboration in a manner that would
optimize the strengths of the entire group.
On the same note, listening plays a crucial role in lowering the
probability for occurrence of conflict. While there are varied reasons
for the occurrence of conflicts in different environments, the most
probable cause is that an individual feel that he or she has been
misunderstood. It is worth noting that listening does not merely entail
hearing the words and comprehending them, rather it also encompasses
paying attention to any nonverbal cues that an individual may give. In
essence, listening allows an individual to comprehend the entirety of a
message and also ask questions in instances where he or she does not
understand especially in case nonverbal cues contradict the words being
said (Worthington & Fitch-Hauser, 2012). On the same case, listening
allows for the ironing out of differences as soon as possible, thereby
reducing the risk of occurrence of conflicts. This reduces the
probability for misunderstanding in an organization by allowing for
effective communication, which subsequently results in conducive working
In addition, listening enhances satisfaction from both customers and
workers or employees. This is especially considering that, when
organizations or institutions listen to the concerns of their customers
and workers, they gain the capacity to understand, as well as relate to
them, in which case they can now remedy the issues or improve the areas
where they may be performing dismally (Worthington & Fitch-Hauser,
2012). This is closely linked to building trust in an organization as
subordinates and customers learn to trust, as well as rely on the
capacity of their leaders to solve their issues. It goes without saying
that such actions would make employees and customers to feel respected,
leading to enhanced satisfaction and loyalty to the company.
On the same note, it is one of the ways in which a leader would
motivate his subordinates or the subjects of his communication (Sipe &
Frick, 2009). In most cases, employees see themselves as outsiders even
when they have been working in an organization for a long time. This has
a negative effect on their morale and productivity in the short- and
long-term. Such emotions in the workplace can be eliminated through
listening to the concerns of the subordinates. Listening allows a leader
to discover the aspects that their subordinates find rewarding or
challenging. The attention gives subordinates the idea that they are
respected or held with high regard in the organization, in which case
they feel as part and parcel of the organization (Sipe & Frick, 2009).
This allows them to identify with the organization and own the duties
and responsibilities for which they are entrusted, thereby owning the
processes. It gives them the impression that the leader is genuinely
concerned about their views and opinions. Listening results in the
development of strong relationships between leaders and their
subordinates or communicators and their audiences, especially
considering that the parties involved are interested in producing a
win-win situation (Stewart, 2009). It allows the concerned parties to
have a clear comprehension of the expectations and responsibilities that
each party has, thereby ensuring that they meet their responsibilities.
Needles to say, it is one of the fundamental techniques of maintaining
reputation and respect for a leader or organization (Sipe & Frick,
2009). Effective communication occurs in instances where individuals
respect each other, an element that is best exemplified through
listening to each other and responding appropriately. Communication is
all about establishing a relationship with the audience, which can only
be established in an environment of respect as underlined by listening.
Needless to say, effective communication can never occur without the
outlined aspects. Most of the other skills of communication do not
incorporate these aspects, as encompassed by the listening skill. This
makes listening the most crucial skill of effective communicators.
In conclusion, communication is a fundamental aspect in the long-term
sustainability of any organization. While effective communication
encompasses varied skills, listening skill comes as the most crucial.
Listening fosters an environment of trust between two people, in which
case they know what they should expect from each other, as well as the
responsibilities and duties that they have for each other (Sipe & Frick,
2009). In addition, it fosters an environment of satisfaction in the
knowledge that the other party has one’s interests in his or her
heart, and has at least considered other people’s opinions. It is
worth noting that any effective communication has its basis as respect,
which is hard to accomplish without the incorporation of listening
skills. On the same note, it allows for enhanced understanding thereby
eliminating the possibility of conflicts, which would have otherwise
hindered effective communication. Listening also allows an individual to
gain information and facts about any aspect, in which case any
communication made would be based on the same (Sipe & Frick, 2009).
Needless to say, effective communication is founded on the aspect of
being factual, with the communicator being informed about the topic that
he or she is exploring. These aspects underline the importance of the
listening skill in enhancing the effectiveness of communicators.
Sipe, J. W., & Frick, D. M. (2009). Seven pillars of servant leadership.
Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
Stewart, J. (2009). Bridges not walls: A book about interpersonal
communication. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
Worthington, D. L. & Fitch-Hauser, M. E. (2012). Listening: Processes,
functions and competency. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon