Written by our marketing intern, Pia Höller
Have you ever been in a situation where you were talking to someone, but you felt like they weren’t really listening to you? Maybe they were scrolling through their phone or looking around the room instead of paying attention to what you were saying.
How did that make you feel? Frustrated? Dismissed? Disrespected?
We’ve all been there, and it’s not a good feeling.
On the other hand, have you ever had a conversation with someone who truly listened to you? Someone who was fully present, engaged, and interested in what you had to say? Maybe they asked follow-up questions or shared their own thoughts and experiences.
How did that make you feel? Understood? Valued? Respected? It’s a completely different experience, right?
These scenarios illustrate the importance of listening and being listened to. In both personal and professional contexts, effective communication requires active listening from both parties.
I have been in both private and professional scenarios where I felt dismissed and overlooked. At 17, I worked a summer job at a supermarket, where my manager often did not properly respond to my questions and called me nicknames that made me feel belittled and not taken seriously. As a result, I felt very uncomfortable in this job environment and generally avoided having to call for help in situations where I felt like support was needed.
In contrast, past experiences of mine have shown how much more comfortable and motivated I am, when I feel like more experienced co-workers meet me at eye level and actually take the time to listen to my ideas and suggestions. I had a very good experience when working at an NGO in London during my gap year, where my colleagues took the time to show me how the organisation works, how it was founded, and the different issues that they were currently concerned with.
While I know that certain professional environments are more fast-paced and require new hires to get on board quickly, I think making space for active listening and open communication is key to helping avoid misunderstandings, increase productivity and foster a positive work culture. Active listening involves being fully present, showing interest, and empathising with the speaker. Being listened to involves feeling heard, validated, and respected.
By practicing active listening and showing interest in others, we can build stronger relationships, improve communication, and achieve our personal and professional goals.
By Sara Hope