New: Audio version
[Classic post from 4-10-15]
I like to talk sometimes, but something I’ve really opened myself up to in the last number of years is listening intently. I learn from talking and I learn much more by listening.
In today’s fast-paced world, it is common to multitask, almost as if it is required of us. This often causes us to listen superficially because we are thinking about other things, like what we’re going to be doing next, our next appointment and what time it is, what I’m wanting to eat for lunch or dinner, what we want to say next, and a very long list of other trivia that keeps us from listening intently.
Karl A Menninger said, “Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”
When I have the opportunity to talk and share some ideas, often those thoughts are forming, ideas are forming right then. They might even be things I haven’t thought about quite that way, and so the act of talking is a creative thing too–IF, someone is actually listening with interest. If they are not, I may as well be home alone talking to the wall. However, just like a performer can excel as never before because they have an attentive audience, my own ideas and thoughts excel when I have one too. Even when it is only one person.
At the same time, I love listening. Or, I should say, I have grown to love to listen to other people talking, sharing ideas, and their own thoughts. I have had many great conversations where I said almost nothing, and certainly nothing memorable. They say a conversation should be two ways. Well, the best two ways is one talking and one listening fully. That completes a conversation. If you want to take turns, that’s okay too.
If you think that you have not been a good listener, and you know who you are, try this. Try listening intently with anyone who talks with you today. Maybe try it for a couple of days. Watch what happens. They will think you’re a great conversationalist. At the very least, watch how good it makes the other person feel. It’s an amazing lesson.
If you’re in customer service or sales, try really listening. Ask a few questions here and there to get them to expand further and watch what happens. I think you will be amazed.
“The Best Gurus Are Disguised As Regular People.” — Alan Cohen
Spread Some Joy Today–by listening well and fully.