Listening or active silence is like a “wonder drug” for communication. Staying silent but attentive to conversations, staying curious and asking questions to draw out others and clarify meaning, and sharing our own views as a reflection of what has been said, opens new possibilities. It helps people feel their contributions matter, conveys respect and respect builds trust and trust is the currency of our relationships.

It can be very hard to keep our thoughts to ourselves in a high-pressure exchange of ideas. Often there is reward in being the first to say something important or to be the one credited with the best idea. AND it can just be hard to do: Many of us like to jump in the fray; some of us may be impatient as the conversation veers too much from the points we think are important; and lots of us don’t like the awkwardness of silence. Here’s some food for thought as your organization sets goals and implements strategy to Work Better Together:

A typical study points out that many of us spend 70 to 80 percent of our waking hours in some form of communication. Of that time, we spend about 9 percent writing, 16 percent reading, 30 percent speaking, and 45 percent listening. Studies also confirm that most of us are poor and inefficient listeners. Listening is a skill that if practiced and honed will lead to better relationships.