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Listening’s Impact on Business Decisions

May 28, 2024

In our fast-paced world, it is often considered a virtue to be a fast thinker, capable of a swift response to a suggestion or a need.  But is speed a virtue or a vice?

In answering this question, it is important to consider the circumstances that you may be facing. For example, in a crisis, a speedy response may save a life. But for this exercise, let us consider the value of speed when deciding on a clinical setting and the importance of active listening.

Listening is a critical yet often undervalued component of effective decision-making processes.

In various contexts:

  • whether personal
  • professional
  • organisational

Listening facilitates the acquisition of essential information, the understanding of different perspectives, and the enhancement of communication. Below, we will delve into the significance of listening in decision-making, supported by empirical studies, and outline practical strategies such as pausing, asking questions, and active listening.

The role of listening in decision making

We would all agree that in our profession, the success of a skin or facial treatment will hinge on the accuracy of a thorough consultation. 

This process requires careful risk assessment and identifying potential contraindications. Achieving this will require the ability to carefully listen to your client and observe both the verbal and non-verbal questions, as these will help you determine your best course of action for their treatment program.

Gathering Accurate Information

  • Effective decision-making hinges on the quality and accuracy of the information available.
  • Listening ensures that decision-makers receive complete and precise data.
  • Listening allows us to collect accurate information, whether assessing a client or communicating with our staff or team members.

A study published in the Journal of Business Communication found that managers who actively listened to their employees were more likely to make informed decisions that positively impacted organisational performance.

Understanding Perspectives

  • Listening allows decision-makers to understand various viewpoints, fostering empathy and reducing biases.
  • According to research by the Harvard Business Review, leaders who practice active listening are better equipped to consider diverse opinions, leading to more inclusive and well-rounded decisions.

Building Trust and Relationships

  • Effective listening builds trust and strengthens relationships, which are crucial for collaborative decision-making.
  • A study in the International Journal of Listening demonstrated that teams with high levels of trust and open communication achieved better decision outcomes compared to those with poor listening practices.

Enhancing Creativity and Innovation

  • Listening encourages the sharing of ideas and promotes an environment where creativity can flourish. Research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology highlighted that organisations with leaders who prioritise listening are more likely to foster innovative solutions and adaptive decision-making strategies.

    Strategies for effective listening in decision-making. If you wish to enhance your listening skills, here are some valuable tips

    Pausing benefits

      • Pausing allows time to process information and formulate thoughtful responses. It prevents rushed judgments and ensures that all relevant information is considered.


      • During conversations, take brief pauses after key points to reflect on what has been said. This technique also allows others to add further insights.

      Asking questions has its benefits

      • Asking questions clarifies understanding, elicits detailed information, and demonstrates interest in the speaker’s perspective. It helps uncover underlying issues and gather comprehensive data.


        • Use open-ended questions to encourage detailed responses and closed-ended questions for specific information.
        • For example, ask, “Can you explain more about this issue?” or “What are the key challenges we need to address?”

        Active listening benefits

          • Active listening involves fully concentrating, understanding, responding, and remembering what is being said. It improves information retention and ensures accurate interpretation of messages.


          • Practice active listening by maintaining eye contact, nodding, and providing feedback, such as summarising or paraphrasing what the speaker has said.
          • For instance, say, “So what I’m hearing is that you’re primarily concerned with how your skin inflammation makes you feel embarrassed.” Identifying this observation will allow you to provide your client with a treatment plan that may require that you also promote a mineral makeup that can make her feel better while you are addressing the course of the redness through your treatment strategy.

          Empirical studies supporting listening in decision making

          Here are a few studies that support how active listening can benefit a business in three different ways:

          Study on managerial effectiveness

          • A study by Weiss and Weidman (2013) examined the relationship between listening skills and managerial effectiveness.
          • The findings revealed that managers who exhibited high levels of active listening were perceived as more effective by their subordinates and were better at resolving conflicts and making decisions.

          Research on team performance

          • Druskat and Wolff (2001) conducted research on emotional intelligence, highlighting that teams with members who practised empathetic listening achieved higher performance levels.
          • The ability to listen to and validate team members’ contributions led to improved decision-making outcomes.

          Analysis of organisational innovation

          • A study in the Journal of Organisational Behaviour by Carmeli and Gittell (2009) found that organisations where leaders practiced active listening had higher levels of innovation. Listening facilitated open communication and the free flow of ideas, crucial for innovative decision-making.

            Practical applications in various contexts

            Business and Management

            • In business, listening enhances leadership effectiveness, improves employee satisfaction, and drives strategic decision-making. Leaders who listen can identify opportunities and challenges more accurately and create a culture of open communication.


            • In healthcare, listening is vital for understanding patient needs, improving diagnosis accuracy, and ensuring patient-centred care. Studies show that healthcare providers who practice active listening enhance patient satisfaction and treatment adherence.


            • In educational settings, listening to students’ feedback and concerns helps educators tailor their teaching methods and create supportive learning environments. It also fosters a sense of belonging and engagement among students.

              Listening is an indispensable component of effective decision-making.

              It facilitates the collection of accurate information, understanding of diverse perspectives, building of trust, and fostering of creativity. By incorporating strategies such as pausing, asking questions, and active listening, decision-makers can enhance their ability to make informed, inclusive, and innovative decisions. As empirical studies have shown, the benefits of listening extend across various contexts, underscoring its importance in achieving successful outcomes.

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