Given that we learn most when we listen and nada when we talk, why do we choose to talk? All too often, it is a reflexive response without true purpose or even an ego driven desire to display our knowledge or inflate our sense of self-importance. But do we honestly have something of value to share? That is truly more important than letting the other feel heard, valued, and understood?
Leaders and managers are expected to talk, to set agendas, explain and give direction BUT once done, the better part of valor is served by asking questions and listening. Questions empower and motivate for they invite others to think independently and lead themselves.
Ask: What intention lies behind my words? What question could I ask that would help me better understand? Both their speech and their fundamental interests and world view motivating their thoughts? Can I visualize myself sitting quietly and simply listening? Being at peace adopting a learning mode? Fully releasing my urge to talk? What would it take for this person to feel completely understood? To experience me as a deep listener?
A very sincere form of respect is actually listening to what another has to say: “Never allow your ego to diminish your ability to listen.” – Gary Hopkins. Henry Babcock penned some excellent conscious guidelines before speaking:
-Is it true?
-Is it kind?
-Is it necessary?
If not, let it be left unsaid.
“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.” – Jimi Hendrix, 1942-1970
“Never miss a good chance to shut up.” – Will Rogers, 1879-1935 (plane crash, Point Barrow, Alaska)
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” – Dalai Lama
“One of the best ways to persuade others is by listening to them.” – Dean Rusk, 1909-1994 (2nd longest serving United States Secretary of State)
As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier