Last night I picked up a copy of Success magazine that I had and decided to read a few articles in it. The first article I read was called The Ears Have It by John C. Maxwell. This article is from the November 2014 issue. There was something about this article that just spoke to me. I guess you could say I was listening. Here is a link to the article if you would like to read it for yourself. The Ears Have It by John C. Maxwell
One of my favorite quotes in this article is "If you don't ask the right questions, you won't get the right answers" This makes perfect sense if you think about it.
Let me give you a little background where this quote came from. The author was telling a story about economic development expert Ernest Sirolli. He was working to develop sustainable agriculture in Africa in the 1970s. He taught them to plant a garden and how to grow tomatoes and zucchini. After months of hard work the garden was full of tomatoes the next evening at harvest time 200 hippos came and ate everything. Sirolli said to the Zambians "My God, the hippos!" and the Zambians said "Yes, that is why we have no agriculture here." "Why didn't you tell us?" "You never asked" So even though Sirolli had a great plan and good intentions without the important detail all this time and money was wasted. Because of this experience Sirolli learned the importance of listening.
Like the author of this article says about himself I am an impatient person. So I tend to jump to conclusions because I don't listen or let someone finish what they are saying. By doing this you end up hurting peoples feeling, getting your feelings hurt and fights can get started as you don't have all your facts.
There is a challenge in this article that would be a good thing to try. It is called The Listening Audit.
The first step is to take and honest look at your current approach to communication. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
1. Am I open to other people's ideas?
2. Am I ope to changing my opinion based on new information?
3. Am I actively seeking feedback and input in order to move the team forward?
4. Do I act defensively when criticized, or do I listen openly for the truth?
5. Do I ask questions in ever conversation?
At the end of the day, reflect on the day's interactions - every meeting, conference call, phone conversation and so on - and calculate the percentage of the time that you spent listening as opposed to the time you spent speaking. At the end of the week, tally up your percentages and get an average. Set a goal to increase your listening percentage in the upcoming week. Be sure to track your progress.
The five strengths of a listening leader are:
Connecting: do this by making eye contact and being fully present
Building confidence: take time to listen to each person on your team
Soliciting ideas: you can do this by paying attention to what your employees are saying
Taking action: act on your ideas before they expire
Reflecting nightly: maximize your new habits by taking time before bed to think and reflect so you can process and apply what you learned.
Even though this article is geared toward business I think it can be used in real life. How many times have you been in a situation where if you would have just listened things would have turned out differently if you would have just had just listened to what the other person or people were saying.
For me I am going to try and make it a point to do more listening and less talking. I am going to take the listening challenge and turn it into a personal one instead of a business one at this point in my life.
Is it easy for you to listen to others?