Project Management

The Power of Listening

Madelyn Burley-Allen

Listening represents the most overlooked yet critical communication skill that a project manager will use on a day-to-day basis. Project managers who listen effectively are more likely to build positive relationships and earn trust. The key is to develop and practice a higher level of listening. Here are some guidelines.

Communications management is one of the ten knowledge areas designated as a core competency for project managers by A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), which states that “effective communication creates a bridge between diverse stakeholders who may have different cultural and organizational backgrounds, different levels of expertise and different perspectives and interests, which impact or have an influence upon the project execution or outcome.”

Listening plays an important yet often overlooked role in effective communication. In fact, one of the best ways to motivate and inspire team members is through the power of listening. Project managers who listen effectively are more likely to build positive relationships and earn trust.

Why people are poor listeners

When we think about listening, we tend to assume it is basically the same as hearing, which is a dangerous misconception because it leads us to believe effective listening is instinctive. As a result, we make little effort to learn or develop listening …


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"There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself."

- Johann Sebastian Bach