Quite a few years ago I had a meeting with an extremely successful businessperson. I can’t even really remember what it was about, but I can tell you that it was less than a half-hour long and I might have said seven words total.
That’s right. I think I might have muttered a “Really/” a “Wow!” and maybe even a “That’s amazing!” a time or two. Other than that, I was completely silent as he shared his stories and his lessons that he had learned during his very lucrative career.
A short time later it got back to me that this successful businessperson had said how smart I was. In honesty, the same three things came to mind – Really? Wow! That’s amazing!
Was it the fact that I had uttered phrases that showed him my stellar IQ? I’d like to say yes, but the answer is clearly no. It was merely the fact that I had truly listened to him and isn’t that what most people want?
Do You Really Listen?
When you listen to others, do you actively listen to what they are telling you? Not just the story, mind you, but the meaning behind it? Do you pay attention to what they aren’t saying as much as what they are?
Some people don’t. Some people are so busy thinking about what they are going to say next that they aren’t taking in the words that are spoken to them. They become more concerned with remembering what they want to voice to the other person rather than truly hearing what the other person has deemed important enough to share.
Maybe this has happened to you? If it has, how did it make you feel? Frustrated? Disrespected? Discounted?
Listening is an Action Verb
Think about that the next time you are conversing with someone and make listening an action verb and not something you just “do.” Let the person that you’re talking with know that they are heard. Validate what they are saying and make them feel valuable.
Be aware of what is going on in your own mind when they are talking and if you find that you’re attempting to conjure up something to say back to them while they are still mid-sentence, decide to let your thoughts go. If they are important enough, they will come back to you when the time is right. If they don’t, they weren’t really necessary to say in the first place.
And just offering your thoughts, opinions, and stories when they appear in your mind isn’t always called for. There’s nothing wrong with asking, “Would you like some feedback?” before just spouting off at the mouth as the person may have just wanted to vent and aren’t looking for advice, making receiving it an unwelcome situation.
You’ll find that this type of listening creates good professional contacts (such as my story about the impression I made on the successful businessperson who thinks I am exceptionally brilliant), as well as deepens your personal relationships. When your spouse, parents, and children feel as if you take the time to listen to them, they’ll be much more willing to share with you, allowing you to get to know them on a multitude of levels.
I once heard it said that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason, so I leave you with that analogy. The question is, will you use them in that proportion? Will you make listening an action verb?