Drawn from “Speed of Trust” by Stephen M.R. Covey, The Collier Companies Fall 2013 Conference of Champions featured a two day “Speed of Trust” seminar by FranklinCovey
To “Listen First, Speak Last” is to “genuinely seek to understand another person’s thoughts, feelings, experience, and point of view” AND “to do it first, before you try to diagnose, influence, or prescribe.”–Speed of Trust, p. 208. The opposite of “Listen First” is talk first, listen last. Talk first is “self-focused, ego-driven behavior” and an explicit “emotional bank account” withdrawal that erodes trust and is the antithesis of relationship building.
“The principles behind Listen First include understanding, respect, and mutual benefit. The counterfeit is pretend listening. It’s spending “listening” time thinking about your reply and just waiting for your turn to speak. Or it’s listening without understanding.” -Speed of Trust, p. 209/10.
The most common objection to “Listen First, Speak Last” is that it “takes too much time.” Yet with people, “fast is slow and slow can be fast” (i.e. when pushed or ignored folks tend to dig in their heels and resist). When shown respect (by listening, by investing time), when their concerns are acknowledged, when they feel understood and valued, trust abounds and process flows more smoothly. Listen First is a practical application of the principle of “instead of increasing driving forces, focus on removing restraining forces.”
“We’ve all heard the criticism ‘he talks too much.’ When was the last time you heard someone criticized for listening too much?” – Norm Augustine, b. 1935-, former Chair, Lockheed Martin
“Leadership has less to do with walking in front and leading the way than it does with listening to the needs of the people of the company and meeting them.”- Charles M. Cawley, b. 1941, Chair/CEO MBNA America
“As long as a person is communicating with high emotion, he or she does not yet feel understood. A person will usually not ask for (or be open to) your advice until he or she feels understood. Don’t get caught up in the illusion that you know everything or have all the right answers. Consider what you can do to ensure others that you are listening to them and making an effort to meet their concerns and needs.” – Speed of Trust