Recently in South Africa there was a furore about a lawyer telling another lawyer to “shut-up” because he was speaking.
We grew up in a society that says in order to win you have speak more than you listen. Politicians shout at each other in parliament, they cut off each other while speaking.
The impression is created that in panel discussions, the one who talks the most is the smartest or well informed. That you have to speak yourself to success.
I’m recently learning that a good lawyer is someone who listens more than he speaks.
Relationships between an entrepreneur and customer, parent and child, or between couples, work better when they listen to each other more than they talk.
In her book You’re Not Listening: What You are Missing and Why It Matters, Kate Murphy shares the story of this guy who is a chatterbox.
I found the story fascinating because I get to meet people who don’t just stop talking. Here is the short story:
The last Dick Bass, son of a Texas oil baron, was know for going on ambitious mountain-climbing expeditions and talk about them, at length, to anyone within earshot, including a man who happened to be seated next to him on an airplane.
For the duration of the cross-country flight, Bass went on about the treacherous peaks of McKinley and Everest and about the time he almost died in the Himalayas and his plan to climb Everest again.
As they were about to land, Bass realized he hadn’t properly introduced himself.
“That’s okay,” the man said, extending his hand. “I’m Neil Armstrong. Nice to meet you.”
You miss out on opportunities [and can look like an idiot] when you don’t take a breath and listen.
Talking about yourself doesn’t add anything to your knowledge base. Again, you already know about you.
When you leave a conversation, ask yourself:
What did I just learn about that person? What was most concerning to that person today? How did that person feel about what we were talking about?
If you can’t answer those questions, you probably need to work on your listening.
When I read this passage I was challenged to learn to listen more and more.
If you go into every situation thinking you already know everything, it limits your ability you grow, learn, connect and evolve.
Listening is a skill, an acquired skill.
Good listeners are not born that way, they become that way.