I could make this the shortest post in the history of blogging by simply writing “be quiet.”
But I won’t.
I recall a time years ago when a friend of mine was flying from Minneapolis to Tampa. That’s a fairly long flight and almost as soon as he found his seat the person next to him began talking. His seat mate talked the entire flight with my friend just interjecting a word or a nod here and there.
When the flight landed his seat mate complimented him on his terrific conversational skills. They said it was the most enjoyable conversation they had ever had on a flight.
My friends “secret” to a great conversation was his ears. He listened well.
If you want to be a good listener then you’re going to have to listen. Really really listen. Linger on the words of the person speaking long enough to truly hear them and not just hear them but understand them.
Great listeners understand this simple truth: if you’re talking then you’re not listening. When you’re talking you might be able to hear what the other person is saying but you’re not listening in a meaningful way.
You’ll learn more in an hour of listening then you can learn in a month of talking so if you want to learn more then listen more and listen better.
To be a better listener understand the value of saying nothing when you have nothing of value to say. Saying less doesn’t make you a poor communicator, in fact, it just might make you a better one.
If you really want to be a better listener then stop talking, that at least will be a pretty good start. Listening well requires focus so put the smartphone down, turn the TV off, look the other person in the eye, be quiet and LISTEN, really really listen.
7 thoughts on “How to be a Better Listener”
Good post Steve. We all need to be reminded of this…pretty much every day. Your comment, “Saying less doesn’t make you a poor communicator, in fact, it just might make you a better one” is really good advice.
Thanks Pat! I am a work in progress when it comes to listening but I find the quieter I am the more I hear.
These days when I’m invited to socials I deliberately leave the smartphone home. It works
That takes courage… that sounds silly but I really believe it takes courage to go phone-less. But I have no doubt that you’re better off for it.
Last week I know definitely if I took the phone I’d be poked into it and miss conversations with people. It turned out that I was able to share a life experience with a friend who I knew a while but never had a conversation with about a common challenge we both faced/ are facing as parents. It had encouraged me to leave the phone behind more often.
I hear you.