Today, it seems "busyness" is the measure of success. We power through our emails, conference calls, and business lunches at breakneck speed. Unfortunately, all this frantic activity has taken a toll on our patience. The result is that we no longer stop to listen to one another—how can we when we're all so busy and important? The trouble, says Ed Hess, is that the ability that's getting lost in the shuffle is the very one MUST HAVE to be a viable player in today's workforce—the ability to truly listen.
"It used to be that the smartest guy in the room was the one who was constantly talking," says Hess, a professor at the University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business and author of the new book Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization. "Not anymore. Now, the smartest guy or gal in the room is the one who asks the right questions and then truly listens to what others have to say."
In other words, the ability to truly listen is the most important 21st century job skill. As Hess explains in Learn or Die, it's the core skill needed for the critical thinking, innovative thinking, collaboration, and real-time diagnosis and problem solving that only humans can do. And that's important because it allows you to stay employed as technology takes over more and more jobs that people used to perform.
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