In a recent survey conducted through our Center for Mentoring Excellence, listening emerged as the top mentoring best practice. Readers of our monthly e-letter, Mentoring Matters, also identified listening as the #1 attribute of a good mentor.

Here’s what they told us about listening:

  • Listening at all levels is the most important thing that I do.
  • Listening to others and helping them find their own way.
  • Listen with an open mind without being judgmental.
  • Truly listen so assumptions are not being made.
  • Listen fully and carefully before offering your advice or opinion.
  • Spend more time listening than talking.
  • Listening and questioning to help my mentee reach their solutions.
  • Be authentic, be warm, be honest and be an engaged listener.
  • Mentors should know themselves well enough to know when their personal strengths or biases cloud the way they listen to and encourage/advise their mentee.
  • Hear what is said in between the message, not just listening to what is said.
  • Read, observe, listen and ask lots of questions

There is a clear message here about the importance of listening.

Listening serves many purposes in addition to letting mentees know that you care. Listening builds mentee confidence. It lets mentees know they have something meaningful to contribute. Listening encourages them to work out their thinking. Invariably, they arrive at a solution on their own. Mentors often discover that the listening skills they develop through mentoring transfers to other functions, boosting their effectiveness in their other leadership roles.


What can you do to improve your skill at listening?

  • Identify the good listeners you know.
  • What do they do that shows they are listening?
    Make a list of those behaviors and then gauge how you measure up.
  • What do you need to do more of?
  • What do you need to do less of?
  • What is one thing you can work on right now that will help you develop and hone your listening skills?