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The single most important skill of a learning professional

If you look at any job description for any learning and development job, you’ll find a whole lot of items listed under required skills and experience. Instructional design. The ability to be a dynamic presenter. Technical savvy with common software such as PowerPoint. Creativity (which is more of a trait than a skill or experience).

I’ve recorded 66 podcast interviews and I’ve been a little surprised at the trait I hear come up most often, including something that was mentioned by next Monday’s guest (Spencer Wixom will be talking about sales training and the Challenger Sale model).

The ability to listen.

It was mentioned often by Dialogue Education pioneer Jane Vella during our conversation. It was mentioned again today during a conversation I had with Learning Life podcast host and uber-successful entrepreneur Jon Tota (whose podcast episode will be posted on June 14). And it makes sense.

How do we know whether training is actually the answer if we’re not listening to the person who asked for a training program?

How do we know what our learners’ needs are if we’re not listening to them before and during a session (as well as during break times)? How do we know if we can go through our content faster or if we need to spend more time in a specific area? How do we know what should be adjusted once a training program begins?

I’m going to keep today’s post short because I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter and see if we can *listen* to some of the other blog readers.

What do you think? Do you agree? Why? And if listening isn’t the most important trait for a learning professional, what do you think is? Drop some thoughts into the comment section!


On a totally different topic, I’d like to wish my mother a happy birthday on Saturday. She turns 29 (again). And she reads every blog post I write. Thanks mom. Happy (early) birthday!

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