My late mother was the greatest listener of all time. She had a special talent for honestly receiving the opinions and feelings of others that made her beloved by nearly everyone.

And her gift of that has been one of my greatest career assets.

As a journalist, most of my best stories began with listening to someone who had been silenced, dismissed or discounted by others. Great storytelling begins with opening your mind to the unfamiliar or uncomfortable and striving to connect with the shared truth it reveals.

Now, as a communicator, I begin relationships with clients by listening carefully to their stories and aspirations to identify the elements that will make them appealingly unique in their market.

Listening is indispensable to business because business is built on relationships and listening is essential to relationships.

In a world that seems increasingly focused on talking – or shouting – the art of listening seems to be waning. But those who do it effectively inevitably rise above the fray of the ordinary.

For those who need a reminder or a refresher, here is a good outline from Forbes on how to be an effective listener:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2012/11/09/10-steps-to-effective-listening/2/

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