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Recognizing and Managing “Listening Bias”

We post frequently on this blog about listening skills. Listening is of critical importance to your ability to persuade, sell, lead, follow… everything in the work place. But here is an important question for you to think about. How well do you listen to people you don’t like? We all come in contact with people we do not get along with, who drive us crazy, who make us uncomfortable. It is natural. There are just some people we will never feel a connection to or get along with.

But in the workplace, those people may still have something to contribute. They may still possess critical information or a skill set that has value for you. And if you don’t like that person, and your dislike of them gets in the way of your listening, then are you allowing your personal feelings to put you at risk professionally? I think you are.

We all like to think of ourselves as open-minded and fair. I rarely meet a person who would openly admit, “Yeah, I’m biased.” We all tend to look in the mirror and see someone who is fair and unbiased. But we all also tend to see ourselves in the most positive light possible. We all have bias, whether we will admit it to ourselves or not. And if we are not careful, and if we don’t manage our bias, then that bias may get in the way of real business progress.

Be honest with yourself. It is OK to have a bias, and it is OK to not like someone. But it is important to put those personal feelings aside, and if you are working or dealing with this person, try to force yourself to listen hard to what they have to say and treat them with professional respect.

It’s a hard thing to do. But it is also critically important to you, your team and your organization.

Have a great day.

At The Latimer Group, our individual Coaching services are highly customized and designed to help you achieve your specific goals. Typical engagements focus on developing skill sets in Leadership Communications, Public Speaking, and Executive-Level Business Presentations. To learn more, e-mail us at

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