The Sounds of Silence
“If we were meant to talk more than listen, we would have two mouths and one ear” is a famous Mark Twain quote, one that is good to reflect on when communicating in business. Leaders that excel at active listening possess a critical asset that will elevate them from good to great. That element however is often the hardest to grasp and incorporate into day-to-day interactions. Why is it so hard to listen effectively?a
Most business leaders are very driven individuals, constantly moving forward with great intensity and a deep desire to perform. This stereotype is well ingrained in our business culture. The profile of a successful leader rarely includes appreciating and practicing the art of being a good listener. BTW – have you ever seen a CEO position description include “must be an excellent listener”?
True listening (not just waiting to speak) presents an opportunity to evaluate, process and uncover clues to solve problems and create strategic advantage. Chances are when listening in earnest we will learn something new or be motivated to think about an issue or topic differently, particularly when engaging individuals who view the world differently. The best solutions and strategies can result from these diverse exchanges. Without this experience we might never grow and improve as business people!
The benefits of having those skills when interacting with colleagues and associates are many. Someone who is an authentic listener can and does evoke a higher level of trust within a relationship. And, trusting relationships are priceless. When individuals feel that they have been heard, leaders are much more effective at inspiring professional development and overall performance.
So why is it so hard to shut up and listen? It takes work. Wanting to be a better listener is a start. A tip? Recently a fellow TEC Chair shared this acronym. I think is terrific and use it as a reminder. WAIT: Why Am I Talking?