Sounds simple. Listening is something we all know how to do. We’ve been capable of doing it sense we were in the womb supposedly, but somewhere along the way, many of us make the mistake of speaking more often than we listen. Recently, I was watching OWN’s Master Class with Simon Cowell, and while I’ve heard it said before, one of his lessons served as a great reminder that I know I could certainly continue to learn from – listen 90% of the time and speak 10%. Because as Mark Twain brings to our attention, “It’s better to stay silent and look a fool, rather than speak and remove all doubt.”
While Twain’s words may be harsh, I think there is some truth to be found in what he is saying. A wise person knows when to listen, even when they may have something very valuable to add. Based on their audience and importance of the situation, such a person can determine whether or not they should speak up. I tend to believe that those who are confident in their abilities don’t feel the need to brag about themselves because they know their actions will speak volumes. It is only in times when sound reasoning is needed that a respectable and wise voice needs to be heard, and someone who tends to listen, gains knowledge and be privy to what such a situation looks like because they’ve allowed themselves to take so much information in, will know when it is the right time to let their voice be heard.
So what are the benefits to listening and how can we become better listeners? Today I’ll tackle the latter, and I hope to convince demonstrate that there is great value in opening our ears because it truly opens our world to beautiful possibilities.
As a student, we sit in a class, listening to the lecture, and write vigorous notes. While we may ask questions periodically, the majority of our time is to be a sponge and soak up information. I would like to suggest that choosing to follow the advice of 90% listening, 10% talking is a way of continually opening our minds to learning, new knowledge and absorbing different perspectives. Learning should never cease no matter where we are in life. The door to a worldly education should never shut no matter where or how we live. And by choosing to listen more often than we open our mouths assures the likelihood that knowledge will be gained. Knowledge that can be used to make better decisions regarding how to pursue our dreams, invest our money, get along with others and understand where we came from.
Make Better Decisions
Due to the knowledge we gain, as mentioned above, the decisions we make will be sounder, based on more fact and less belief or an “I think so . . .” thought process. We will be able to eliminate the unnecessary confidently, knowing what we should focus our energy on, and what we should let roll off of our backs without paying it mind.
By consistently being a good and active listener, those around us take notice. Those around us witness that we genuinely care what others are saying and respect what others have to say. In turn, it is more likely that respect will be given to us simply by not saying a thing, but taking the time to truly pay attention and listen.
When we listen instead of speak, our thoughts are digesting what we are hearing. Instead of focusing on what we want to say next, but genuinely paying attention, we take in what we are hearing and ever so often discover nuggets of gold. When we come across a discovery, we give ourselves opportunities. Take a moment and reflect back on a time when you discovered something new and intriguing. Did it occur when you were speaking your mind or when you were absorbing new information? Most likely, you were observing, listening and seeing something for the first time. Keep this in mind when you question whether you should be listening or calculating what to say when you get a chance. I assure you, very few times will you regret listening and gathering information opposed to possibly saying something you might regret.
An Increase In Productivity
By allowing others to speak, whether they be in our family, our place of business or simply an opportunity to work with others, more ideas are thrown out on the table so that hopefully the right idea will be noticed and put into action. If only one voice is allowed to speak, the creative process can’t occur. Because when we are working with others, we will all see things slightly different, but that is a good thing. By bringing all of our ideas together, letting everyone speak and listening to what each person has to say, we might be surprised to know that everyone has more in common than was at first thought, and more importantly, a more successful plan to attack the problem or task at hand is created.
Listening isn’t easy sometimes, but continue to learn ways to become better at a skill that is sure to add quality to a multitude of areas in your life - click here to read part two.