I noted in a previous post that I went to Gettysburg, PA for a Lincoln Leadership conference. The talk began by asking all of us if we thought Americans were good listeners. Most of us said no. Then when asked if we thought we ourselves were good listeners even fewer hands went up.
What Steve Wiley was pointing out was that most people are not really listening when someone else is talking they are simply waiting for the other person to stop so they can make their own point. In fact you can sit there pretending to listen, smiling, nodding your head but inside you can be thinking ‘I wish this guy would finish already because I already knew what he was going to say and really want to get MY point across’.
We all do this and do it all the time. We are often two and three thoughts ahead of the conversation at hand since our minds work so much faster than our mouths. (I have a friend who describes someone we know by saying ‘He thinks orally’ – not good).
So Steve came up with ‘Listen until it hurts’. Listen to the point where you almost cannot take it anymore. Your teeth begin to clench, your jaw tightens and you have had so many thoughts that you have even forgotten some of the really important things you wanted to say before the other person stops talking.
I think he’s right. People want to tell you what’s on their mind. What seems like HOURS might only be three minutes (and believe me it can be interminable). But by listening, REALLY listening, you can learn so much. We all have two ears and one mouth. Ever think about that?
Give it a try and let me know how it works out.