Mpho worked at a butcher’s shop. His height was 5’8. His waist was 38 inches. He worked 10 hours a day and earned R200 per day.

What did he weigh?

Everyone started calculating Mpho’s weight by multiplying, dividing, adding, subtracting, and finding relation between all the digits.

Then a guy stood up and said:

“Ma’am, He weighed meat.”

“Ahhhh!” We all sighed. The question was not What was his weight, it was What did he weigh?

Live interactions with others matter.

They matter because it is through them that we can build or destroy.

Live interactions are a combination of talking and listening, a dialogue, not monologue. In them, we listen and we talk.

However, more often in them, we hear, but don’t listen.

We get caught busy talking, or we have noisy minds that distracts us from listening to others.

As much as the speaker has to be clear, the listener has to actively listen.

The listener has nearly as big a responsibility as the speaker does.

I just entered “how to speak” on Google, and got a search result of about 5 440 000 000.

And then I entered “how to listen” and got the result of about 1 460 000 000.

And then lastly I entered “how to actively listen” and got the result of about 71 700 000.

Based on these three results, one is led to think that we seek and value tips on speaking far more than we do on listening, let alone active listening.

As a result, many can speak, but few can listen actively.

Active listening is not a passive act, not if you want to do it right.

If listening better leads to better speaking, then it becomes a competitive advantage.

When pitching for funding, entrepreneurs practice delivering elevator and pitch presentations, but very few practice active listening during question and answer sessions with funders.

The hardest step in better listening is the first one: do it on purpose.

Make the effort to be good at listening.

Good listeners get what they deserve, better speakers.

You want to have good conversations? Listen more than you speak.

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