When building and growing a business, or even with our daily interactions and whereabouts, one quality is key to develop: the art of listening. Very often, we hear people say or we say ourselves “I am listening”, only to realize later on that whatever was said was only heard but not understood, because the other person was not listening at all.

There are different levels of listening. The first level represents that person who you are telling a story to and who immediately says, “Oh I know that feeling, I myself have experienced this when…”. The so-called listener then makes it all about themselves and your story or point is never taken into consideration. This kind of listening (let’s call it Level A) does not lead anywhere since it ends up being one-way communication only.

Level B is when a person is told a story and they intensely listen to the other person, or at least pretend they do. They do not bring up anything about themselves, nod their head and seem to have soaked all of the information that was given to them. Unfortunately, it is very passive and very often, the information conveyed is lost or not understood deeply.

Finally, level C is active and deep listening. The listener in that situation is intensely involved and focused and pays attention to the other party and the information, but also are very present in the moment. They notice everything that surrounds the conversation and when asked later, are able to retrace it like a vivid memory. This kind of listening is what we should be doing all the time, every single day, it is mostly about living every moment and being present.

Ernest Hemingway said: “I like to listen. I have a learned a great deal listening carefully. Most people never listen.” Are you listening?

ACTION STEP: Learn to listen. Pay attention to everything that surrounds you, even when you are alone. Listen to the sounds around you, pay attention to your environment. Be present. You’ll be surprised how your communication skills will improve.