Assessment: How much do you stink at listening?

StrategyDriven Business Communications Article
Answer these questions to see how accurately you hear what your communication partner intends you to hear, and how much business you are losing as a result.

  1. How often do you enter conversations to hear what you want to hear – and disregard the rest?
  2. How often do you listen to get your own agenda across, regardless of the needs of the speaker?
  3. How often do you have a bias in place before the speaker’s points or agenda are known?
  4. Do you ever assume what the speaker wants from you before he/she states it – whether your assumption is accurate or not?
  5. How often do you listen merely to confirm you are right… and the other person is wrong?
  6. Do you ever enter a conversation without any bias, filters, assumptions, or expectations? What would need to happen for you to enter all conversations with a totally blank slate? Do you have the tools to make that possible?
  7. Because your filters, expectations, biases, and assumptions strongly influence how you hear what’s intended, how do you know that your natural hearing skills enable you to achieve everything you might achieve in a conversation?
  8. How much business have you lost because of your inability to choose the appropriate modality to hear and interpret through?
  9. How many relationships have you lost by driving conversations where you wanted them to be rather than a path of collaboration that would end up someplace surprising?

As I am writing my new book, Did You Really Say What I Think I Heard? I’ve gotten notes from all around the world: everyone thinks they listen accurately. Ah… But do they hear what’s intended?

It’s physiologically impossible to accurately hear what our communication partner intends us to hear. We have biases, filters, triggers, assumptions, and habits that get in the way. And people don’t accurately represent what they mean for us to hear, leaving out details that they assume will be understood and aren’t, or choosing words that have different meanings for listeners. Or the situation we find ourselves in has any range of situational biases that make it difficult. We hear according to our education, family history, religious beliefs, political beliefs, age, ethnicity…

Are you getting the picture here? Not even close to possible. So what is it we are defending? What is so important about believing we hear what’s intended when we don’t – and it’s not even possible?

My new book will break down the good, the bad, and the ugly of how we hear, why we don’t, where we have problems (lots of assessments and fun exercises), and ways to fix it. Lots of funny examples of just plain dumb conversations between really smart people. And trust me: my snarky personality will lead readers through the process. I can’t wait until it comes out next year.

Email me with questions about listening. Speak to others about the project. Let’s make ‘hearing what’s intended’ the new buzz phrase. Because if we all can hear what’s intended, we can make a huge difference in the world.

About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is founder of Morgen Facilitations, Inc. ( She is the visionary behind Buying Facilitation®, the decision facilitation model that enables people to change with integrity. A pioneer who has spoken about, written about, and taught the skills to help buyers buy, she is the author of the acclaimed New York Times Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: Why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.

Want to enhance your or your team’s listening skills? Contact Sharon Drew at [email protected]. Learn about her training programs and speaking topics at

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