The power of listening in helping people change

Guy Itzchakov, Avraham N Kluger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Feedback is one of the most common ways we help others learn and develop. But it can backfire when people become defensive. Researchers explored whether a more subtle intervention — asking questions and listening — could be more effective. Whereas feedback is about telling employees that they need to change, listening to employees and asking them questions might make them want to change. The research findings suggest that attentive and non-judgmental listening seems to make an employee more relaxed, more self-aware of his or her strengths and weaknesses, and more willing to reflect in a non-defensive manner. This can make employees more likely to cooperate (versus compete) with other colleagues, as they become more interested in sharing their attitudes, but not necessarily in trying to persuade others to adopt them, and more open to considering other points of view. The researchers explain the main barriers to high-quality listening and offer tips to help anyone become a better listener.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalHarvard Business Review
StatePublished - 18 May 2018


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