If there ever was a golden rule of communication – listening is it! Listening intently speaks far greater volumes than you can ever speak. If you think of someone that is well-liked, most times it’s not because they have the latest joke; it’s because they are terrific listeners. They will encourage others to talk about themselves and then listen, giving them the gift of attention. Great listeners pay careful attention, looking the person speaking in the eyes with genuine focus. Listening well can propel you in every area of life; however, Dr. Mark Rutland says, “Listening is among the most underdeveloped disciplines of leadership. The best leaders know that listening is not just waiting to talk.”
We have all probably witnessed the salesperson who talked themselves out of the sale. I have been guilty of this myself. The prospect was ready to buy, but by the time I was finished speaking, the person just wanted to escape! It’s why you don’t ever hear anyone say, “Boy that guy just listens, listens, listens,” but you do hear, “That guy just talks, talks, talks.” Charles W Eliot put it simply, “There is no mystery about successful business intercourse – exclusive attention to the person who is speaking to you is very important.” This rule proves true for every level on every organizational chart, no exceptions.
Excessive talking screams of insecurity. If you find yourself talking over someone in conversation, ask yourself, “What am I insecure about?” Wisdom is not always shown in what you say, as “A truly wise person uses few words” (Proverbs 17:27). Just to be clear on the subject: “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible keep your mouth shut” (Proverbs 10:19). Listening intently requires effort – relax and focus on what is being said to you, look the person in the eyes. Personally, my ability to focus lies in how much I disclose in prayer; my subconscious can relax after I have talked to God.
I am guilty of pausing too long before a response. This trait is not purposeful; I am simply processing what was said last. I believe we tend to speak quickly in effort not to appear foolish. However, “There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking” (Proverbs 29:20). Focus intently, take notes if needed, but by all means, be “Quick to listen, slow to speak” (James 1:19).
What are some of your thoughts on listening?