10 Quotes to Inspire Active Listening

10 Quotes to Inspire Active Listening

Active listening was first used in counseling and conflict resolution. These days, business professionals around the world employ the technique. It makes sense: When it’s done right, active listening — fully listening to the speaker and providing verbal and non-verbal feedback — can help you to draw people out, avoid misunderstandings, foster collaboration, settle disagreements and gain people’s trust. Most of the best leaders have strong listening skills.

Hoping to become a better listener and communicator? Here are 10 of our favorite quotes about active listening skills to inspire you:

1. Listen at least as much as you talk  

“I only wish I could find an institute that teaches people how to listen. Business people need to listen at least as much as they need to talk. Too many people fail to realize that real communication goes in both directions.”

— Lee Iacocca, former president and CEO, Chrysler Corporation

2. Listening is a sign of respect

“To say that a person feels listened to means a lot more than just their ideas get heard. It's a sign of respect. It makes people feel valued.” 

Deborah Tannen, author and professor of linguistics, Georgetown University

3. Never stop listening

“Of all the skills of leadership, listening is the most valuable — and one of the least understood. Most captains of industry listen only sometimes, and they remain ordinary leaders. But a few, the great ones, never stop listening. That's how they get word before anyone else of unseen problems and opportunities.”

— Peter Nulty, Fortune Magazine

4. Learn by listening

“I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.”  

 Larry King, TV host

5. Listening open and actively

“To learn through listening, practice it naively and actively. Naively means that you listen openly, ready to learn something, as opposed to listening defensively, ready to rebut. Listening actively means you acknowledge what you heard and act accordingly.” 

Betsy Sanders, former senior vice president and general manager, Nordstrom

6. Learn to bite your tongue 

“You have to be willing sometimes to listen to some remarkable bad opinions. Because if you say to someone, ‘That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard; get on out of here!’ — then you'll never get anything out of that person again, and you might as well have a puppet on a string or a robot.” 

— John Bryan, former CEO, Sarah Lee Corporation

7. Don't try to multitask

“You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” 

— M. Scott Peck, author of “The Road Less Traveled”

8. Use your eyes and your ears

“If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk.”  

— Robert Baden-Powell, first Chief Scout of the Boy Scouts Association

9. Exercise the creative force

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” 

— Karl A. Menniger, American psychiatrist

10. Do more listening than talking

"Most of the successful people I've known are the ones who do more listening than talking." 

— Bernard Baruch, American financier and presidential advisor

Want more tips for leadership?