I’ve always felt listening to be a focused endurance activity. It’s different than a debate and different from a session of small talk. I further liken it to searching for something in the dark. We are looking around when we listen, getting to know the environment of the other person’s mind, drawing out as much information as possible and getting to know it for what it is.
During the last few years I’ve been able to listen to some very interesting people—from street merchants and laborers who earn $200-$300 a month, to billionaire investors and CEO’s who earn millions. Throughout this time I’ve formed a few of my own conclusions, or “principles in listening” which I’d like to share with you here.
Some of these conclusions may be obvious, but as Jim Rohn says, “Success is a study of the obvious. Everyone should take Obvious I and Obvious II in school.”
Here are those conclusions:
-We must have a stated internal goal to become an effective listener (ie., “to become a more powerful leader, I need to become a better listener and earn the trust of those I come in contact with”).
-Just as “the customer is always right”, in a listening session, the person speaking is always right. After all, listening is simply an exploration into a person’s mind—not an excavation or remodeling effort. And what is “right” anyways?
-Listening is a chance to quietly walk around the museum of the mind, closely observing the artifacts and understanding their origins.
-Listening can provide a doorway to better relationships, more influence, more trust, and ultimately, a refined power unavailable to most people.
-Using the other person’s name during a listening session is a great habit, and increases the quality and value of the experience.
-Identify what the person speaking cares about most. Family always represents our greatest source of wealth, and is a good subject to learn about with whomever it is we’re speaking. Spend time learning the names and details of their family members, and just maybe your listening capabilities will earn you an invitation to become an “honorary family member” of the person speaking. If you’re so lucky to earn that designation, it will bear fruit for the rest of your life.
Key Concept: The service of listening should be considered as important as providing a person with food and water. The mind, just like the body, can suffer from malnourishment. Keep this in mind as you serve the person speaking.
Key Opportunity: Society does not encourage strong listening skills, therefore, those who build these skills will carry a great competitive advantage in life.
Key Responsibility: Listening is a great responsibility, as the person speaking will give you the cherished fruits of their mind. These fruits are sensitive, delicate, and bruise very easily. Take great care in handling them, and remember the trust they are giving you must be honored, and the safety of their mind defended just as much as the safety of their physical person.
Is there a person with whom you haven’t had the chance to listen to in a while?
What are your thoughts on listening?