70/30 Rule



Have you ever had a conversation with someone who talked almost the entire time and didn’t  stop once to listen to you?  Or, perhaps you were able to talk but didn’t feel as if the other person was engaged in the conversation?  In fact, communication is important in every type of relationship, yet many people have poor listening skills.  Nonetheless, to succeed in both work and life, listening skills are essential.  Listening is more than just hearing the other person, true listening requires effort and concentration.


Effective communication involves active or empathetic listening.  Thus, good communicators follow the 70/30 rule: listen at least 70% of the time and talk no more than 30% of the time.  By following the 70/30 rule, conversations become a two-way process in which information is exchanged back and forth.  Good communicators are able to concentrate, stay attentive and be able to process information as well as clarify and give feedback.  If you think of all these factors involved in good communication, its easy to see why people can misinterpret or get confused during conversations.

Effective listening encourages further communication by allowing accurate information to transfer between people.  Good communication encourages questioning and paraphrasing to make sure the information heard is understood.  Today, a customer called concerned about a conversation with another agent.  Among other unclear comments the agent made, she stated to the customer that she was “in the middle of training.”  The customer was not sure if it meant the agent was busy doing training and was not able to help the customer or that she was training with someone on the call.  Nonetheless, it caused the customer to feel odd afterward.  She called back to voice her concern as she believed customer service was lacking.  (I would feel the same way.)  All too often people say things (non-verbal as well) and do not realize others may interpret that same situation differently.  By being more aware of how we say things and what the other person might be feeling, communicating can become easier.

Have you had a recent conversation in which the other person appeared to be disengaged?  How did that make you feel?

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