I believe that listening well is the greatest honor you can pay another person.
When you listen, you tell another person that you value them. That you respect them. That they matter.
And if you are someone who needs to work with other people to get things done, then there is no better way to lead than to listen.
This is true in the workplace, and it’s true with toddlers.
I imagine you’ve heard of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, haven’t you? Probably no surprise to you – I only really like two and a half of the habits.
The one I half-like is “Sharpen The Saw”, which in principle – to continually learn – I am totally on board with. “Sharpen” and “Saw” strike me as a little too chest-thumping lumberjacky macho macho.
That being said, another I really like is “Start With The End In Mind”, which is all about vision – vitally important.
But the best habit is: “Seek First to Understand, Then To Be Understood” which is a succinct endorsement of the power of listening.
Listen first, understand what the other person is saying, and then say what you need to say.
Sounds easy. Can sometimes be hard.
Let’s make it easier with just a few tips:
- Turn off the phone
- Stop texting
- Do not check your email
- Move to another room if you can’t pretend the game is not on
- Let the other person have uninterrupted space to say what needs to be said
- Make eye contact
- Repeat or rephrase what you’ve heard – this is called “Active Listening”
- Ask if you’ve understood their point or argument
- Clarify as needed
- Now, say what you want to say -without judgment and ego
It’s that last bit that makes most of us grind our teeth. Having a staff person tell you what’s wrong with the roll-out may feel like a challenge to your expertise or planning skills or authority, but unless you’re Steve Jobs you might want to listen in case the kid has a point. Could save you some time and money. And maybe even guarantee the success you’re aiming for.
Plus, that kid could end up being the next Steve Jobs – wouldn’t it be cool to have been his mentor?
Even if the listening you’re doing is with your child who is telling you something you’d rather not hear – and, trust me, if you have a teenager this happens frequently – separating what is being said from your own ego is key to building a stronger relationship.
Which is the point, right?
In this fast-paced, go-go-go, multi-media, multi-input, multi-stimulus world, taking time out of time to really listen can shift a relationship from superficial to rich. And results from ho-hum to amazing.
Real, connected listening builds respect, which – in my opinion – we could use a lot more of in this world of ours.
So, ready? It’s time to listen up.