Seven Steps to Tame Your Ego And Become A Better Listener

We all have an ego. Some people have such a big ego that it can can bring them down.

Our ego is hardwired into our brain, but to win in an economy where ideas are paramount, our success will rely more on soft skills.

Professor Edward D. Hess, a professor at the UV Darden Graduate School of Business and author of the book, Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization says humility is the new key to success. Prof Hess says that humility depends on taming our ego.

To collaborate with others successfully, we need to listen and learn.

In previous decades, people with big egos were admired. They were the type A personalities, the rugged individualists, fearless leaders, MVPs, visionaries, and go-getters, Professor Hess says.

The type A personality is likely to stand their ground, argue the point, and beat you down with the power of their voice. These days the type A is more likely to be seen as a bully. Professor Hess says that now, a larger-than-life ego is more likely to be a liability.

ego to humility for success

One of the best skills you can have this to be an active listener.

Here are seven things you can do to keep your ego in check and become a better listener.

  1. Do not interrupt other people
  2. If you interrupt the other person, you’re not listening to them. At this point you should be gathering information.

  3. Focus on understanding the other person
  4. Understanding is more than just listening, so you must listen and try not to prepare that your own response.

  5. Suspend your judgment
  6. Don’t judge what they say, or where you think they are going with the conversation, while you are listening to them.

  7. Do not think about your response while the other person is still talking
  8. The time to think about your response is after you’ve heard them say all they have to say and you have clarified what they mean.

  9. Do not automatically advocate your views in your first response
  10. Pushing your own view immediately they have finished speaking can be counter-productive because you may not have understood what they meant. – See the next point.

  11. Ask questions to make sure you understand the other person
  12. Think about all the things they have told you and clarify that you understand what they were saying.

  13. Paraphrase what the other person said to make sure you heard them correctly
  14. When I worked for Computer Power Software Group in the US, the CEO, David Saykally, had a great way of doing this. He would say “Here’s what I think I heard you say …” and he would paraphrase back to the person he was speaking with. It was very effective.

Professor Hess says that in the future as robots and smart machines take over many of our job Jobs that would be safe from robots are those that require “higher-order cognitive and emotional skills that technology can’t replicate, like critical thinking, innovation, creativity, and emotionally engaging with other humans.” All of those human skills are enabled by humility.

Hess says that ego-based thinking is our brain’s default mode, so it will be difficult to keep our ego under control.

Professor Edward D. Hess has a website at

Alan Gray
Alan Gray is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of NewsBlaze Daily News and other online newspapers. He prefers to edit, rather than write, but sometimes an issue rears it's head and makes him start hammering away on the keyboard.

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