Becoming a Better Listener as a Start-up Founder

Noel Dykes
2 min readJan 27, 2022


Communication skills are the cornerstone of great leaders, and the most effective way to deliver on this is becoming better at listening.

As a start-up founder, it’s easy to assume that listening is merely about showing up, nodding heads and paying attention. It’s also deeply tied to paying attention to ourselves. When we engage in surface listening, we fail to build meaningful relationships with our people, and we miss the deeper meaning of a conversation.

Here’s how to become a better listener.

Understanding your ‘Default’ Mode

In business, you will have different conversations with diverse people, so a one size fits all approach to listening doesn’t work. That said, one area worth investing in is understanding your ‘default’ mode of listening. For example, are you the problem-solver, the one who interrupts or empathic? Once you know your ‘default’ mode, you can adjust your style based on the event.

Being an effective listener is about building self-awareness around how you consistently show up in conversation.

Practice Mindful Listening

It’s easy to project our ideas, experiences or emotions onto others. Don’t do that!

Instead, listen without judgment, criticism or interruption. When an idea or possible response enters our mind, simply observer it and let it pass.

With most of us now working remotely, it’s easier for the mind to wander. Work on being present and be intentional about mindfully listening to others.

Priorities and Delegate.

As your business grows, you can’t be in every conversation. Remember that your people will notice where you show up and spend your listening time. Where you lean in and prioritise your time is essential. Equally, where you’re not present, make sure your people still feel heard by delegating to someone you trust to do a good job listening.

Watch Reaction

Control your reaction to information that gets shared with you from colleagues. For example, if you constantly react with anger to news of product release delays, the frequency of these kinds of updates will slow. Equally, if you show up to conversations and always have the answers, others will reverse out, not engage and collaboration stalls.

Bring humility, curiosity, and empathy into every conversation.



Noel Dykes

Passionate about the intersections of great design, people and business. Founder @