Because it just can’t be emphasized enough
When we think too much about what we are going to say next, we are not able to listen to what is being said to us.
Listening requires focused attention. While we may hear the noise of the words (think Charlie Brown and any adult), we don’t always listen to the words themselves. I have been told I’m a good listener. While I appreciate the compliment, I am as guilty as anyone of either drifting off and thinking of other things when someone else is speaking or preparing my response in my head rather than actually listening to what is being said to me.
We learn by listening. I have also been told I’m a very quiet person. (Yes, this probably surprises a few of my readers!) I developed a technique from my father, who was an incredibly smart man but who spoke very little . . . until he was ready. He sat quietly and soaked in information and then would actually talk your ear off about all he had learned. I can do that too!
Think about how many problems we could solve in business – and in society – just by listening. Not listening definitely leads to misunderstandings. “Oh, I thought I heard you say . . . .” by way of explanation when responding inappropriately. “I just don’t understand that person” when we haven’t really listened to what that person had to say.
What could we learn about others if we took just a few moments to stop thinking about what we are going to say – and focus on what they are saying?
We could learn what our clients truly want and need from us.
We could learn more about people who don’t think their voice is being heard – and maybe build some unity in our communities.
We could learn why some people are struggling or unhappy, and be better able to help them solve their challenges.
We could even learn a little more about how others see us.
Listening may not solve all of the world’s problems, but it sure could be a giant step in the right direction.
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”