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Listening and Understanding in Business Communication

The article Listening and Understanding written by Rogers Carl and Roethlisberger provides extremely significant guidelines required for effective communication. The authors argue that “good communication or free communication between or within people is always therapeutic” (Rogers & Roethlisberger, 1991, p.106). The authors further argue that people’s ability to evaluate is the greatest obstacle to communication. According to Rogers and Roethlisberger (1991), if people can learn to listen with understanding, they can mitigate their impulses and greatly improve their communication with others. It is important, according to Rogers and Roethlisberger, to educate people in effective communication; essentially teaching them how to listen.

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Before joining college, I worked in a restaurant as a cashier. On one occasion, we realized that the total collections of the day were not adding up as expected. The total amount collected was not reflecting the amount of food sold during that particular day. The manager was very furious and he wanted to know why we had an error. I could not figure out why the amount collected was less. I had monitored all the sales during the day and I could not remember giving out the wrong change.

I was unhappy with the way the manager reacted to me. That experience reminds me of an episode in which the tendency to evaluate got in the way of successful communication and understanding. I was very quick to condemn the manager for the way he reacted towards me. I was sure that the genesis of that mix up was not my making. After scrutiny, it was found out that a recent recruit had altered the computational tool. This messed up the conversion factors and the computer gave wrong summations.

The technique of listening and communication would have reduced the confrontation that arose between the manager and me. On one hand, the manager was wrong to judge me without listening to me first. On the other hand, I was wrong when I evaluated the manager’s remarks before understanding his point of reference. After realizing the origin of the mistake, I realized that my manager wanted me to be keener. My manager on the other hand learned that I did not like the idea of being blamed before listening to the side of my story.

Listening with understanding plays a key role in learning about other people’s ideologies. Effective communication can be achieved by avoiding evaluative behavior and by listening with understanding. Thus, “listening with understanding requires us to see the expressed idea and attitude from the other person’s point of view, seeing how it feels to that person, and achieving her frame of reference about the subject at hand” (Rogers & Roethlisberger, 1991, p.108).

Listening with understanding is not easy as it sounds but it can be achieved systematically through consistent trial. Listening requires courage and it is not as simple as it sounds. Listening with understanding is a key tool that can be used to resolve any issues in several ways. First, it enables individuals to communicate with themselves and with others. Secondly, it ensures that compromise is reached when people have heated arguments. Thus, it is paramount to educate people on the importance of listening to each other intelligently, understandingly, and skillfully.


Rogers, C., and Roethlisberger, F. (1991). Barriers and Gatewyas to Communication. Harvard Bussiness Review, 106-110.

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