The most important skill


I’m not wasting any time on warm and fuzzy. Let’s get straight to work.

We’ll begin today with the most difficult skill to learn.

The skill probably most important to your success.

Try some guesses as to which of the following abilities ranks first:

How well you service clients?
Can you speak with confidence?
Do you know how to close a sale?
Can you think quickly on your feet?
Do you have more contacts than anyone else?

In my opinion, and feel free to disagree or add your own, one outweighs them all.

And I’m not just talking about your success as a professional or in business, but your future as a significant other, as a friend, and as a parent.

It’s your ability to listen. That is going to outweigh and influence all your other skills.

Sounds pretty easy. Someone else is speaking and you wait your turn. Then you respond. Except life doesn’t work that way.

Maybe you’re having an argument and what you have to say is more important. So you interrupt.

Maybe you are formulating the response to an argument while the other person is speaking. Does that ever happen to you? It sure does to me.

Maybe you’re thinking about ten other things you need to be doing while the other person is speaking?

Or the world champ response: “I’m great at multitasking. I can listen and read at the same time. I can work and listen at the same time. I can listen to the podcast while checking my emails.” We’ll deal with the science of multitasking tomorrow, but for now I’ll end this paragraph with what I’ve learned in my own research.


I can’t so anything else and try to listen. Very quickly the words fly by my ears but are not absorbed by my brain, which is wired to do one thing at a time.

But here is the key for today. None of the rainmaking skills I outlined above can be developed if you do not develop the ability to listen. When it comes to relationships and understanding clients or friends, the most important skill you can develop, is the ability to keep your mouth shut, unless you are asking the next question, in response to what you’ve just heard.

Who is the most important person in your client’s life? It most certainly isn’t you. But the way your client ( or significant other) will believe that they are the most important person in your life is dependant on your ability to listen to their problems, before responding or trying to figure out the solution.

It’s hard for many and I include myself in that bunch. If you have any great approaches to listening, pleas share them

In our rush to respond and play problem solver, or “smartest person in the room” we have the tendency to shut down our listening. Rather than teasing out an entire problem or allowing our client to formulate their own solutions by talking the problem through in its entirety, we rush to solve.

If you’re a litigator in front of a judge what kind of listening issues have you experienced? Positive and negative.