I speak often on the importance of listening well. I believe that listening well is every bit as important to communication as speaking well. Many would say listening is even more important because listening informs us about how we should speak if we want to be listened to.
Considering how important I believe listening is you might get the idea that I’m a very good listener. I’m likely better than average but I have a long way to go before I can say “very good.”
But I’m working on it.
Before you decide that you’re a “good enough” listener you must realize what that means. “Good enough” means you’re settling for something that likely isn’t very good. It also means that it is possible you’re not willing to put in the effort required to be better. Sadly, it means you’re content going through life not really knowing and understanding what is happening around you. It means you’ll become involved in arguments because you missed the intent of a person’s words.
In short, being a “good enough” listener means you’re missing a whole bunch of life.
But you can work on being better too.
Your journey to listening better begins by admitting you can be a better listener. Being a better listener requires that we understand hearing is a passive activity and listening is an intentional one. Listening well requires focus. It requires that we linger on the words being spoken to us long enough to understand their meaning and intent.
Listening well requires that we indeed listen to understand rather than listening to respond. It requires that we acknowledge that we can’t listen and talk at the same time. We can’t even listen and think about our response at the same time. We can’t listen and be fiddling with our phones at the same time. We can’t listen to someone and watch TV at the same time.
Do you see a pattern here yet? You can’t do anything else and be focused on listening well.
If you think you can then I’m sorry to say you’re not being honest with yourself.
I’ve started setting aside whole days to focus on listening. The people around me may not realize what I’m doing. The people I’m in meetings with may even think I’m not engaged. What they don’t realize is that I’m completely and totally focused on every word they are saying and how they are saying them. I’d made the decision before the meeting ever started that the day would be a listening day. I will speak only when I have something of absolute value to add.
I’m sure since I’ve started this that people are “wondering” about me. They wonder what is wrong. That kinda makes me smile because the fact is, nothing is wrong. I’m just working hard to make sure I’ve heard everything exactly right.
My listening days are helping me learn more. I’ve never learned anything while I was talking so talking less increases my opportunity to learn. I’m trying to make the most of those.
I’ve often said that hearing is a gift from God but listening is a choice He gives us. It’s a choice I’m trying to make more often. I hope you’ll join me in the pursuit of better listening, we will all be better off for making the effort.
Before you go…some of you know that I’ve been trying out something relatively new over on Twitter. It’s called SuperFollow. That means I post some tweets that are for subscribers only. The tweets I post for subscribers are video only. I post two each weekday, mostly on leadership but also sales and living a better life in general. I’m also way more available for questions from SuperFollowers than I can be for the million plus regular Twitter followers. The investment to see these “SuperTweets” is $4.99 a month, that’s about 17 cents a day. The videos continue to grow in popularity so clearly a lot of people think they are worthwhile.
I don’t get to keep the entire $4.99. Twitter of course gets some, Apple, for reasons I don’t entirely understand, gets an even bigger chunk than Twitter. What’s left after that ALL goes to charity. So you can help yourself with pretty good video coaching and make a difference in the world too. This month the charity is very very close to my heart. All the proceeds are going to help kids with Down Syndrome.
You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help.
3 thoughts on “Listening Days”
We’re bombarded with an incredible amount of conscious and unconscious stimulus daily, all of which works against being a present listener; listening with intent to understand is exhausting for me, especially with distraction (e.g. in a restaurant); I have to ensure I have some time away from people and stimulus to properly rest.
I absolutely agree Marc. We have to have some time to turn off all the “noise” and never ending distractions. It’s the primary reason I’m up at 4:00am, most people aren’t and the distractions are very limited at that time of day. Getting up early doesn’t work for everyone but it sure works for me.