What is one tool that will grow your leadership, make you a better employee, parent, or spouse? This is a simple one, it’s your ears…or to be more accurate, listening. I know you’ve heard it before but the more time I spend living and breathing, the more it becomes clear that listening is one of the best tools we have for just being better human beings. While your mouth can say so much, it can also get you into a lot of trouble. Your ears on the other hand never get you in trouble.
The problem with listening is that most of us worry that we will not get our point across, we will seem weak, or we will not have a voice. What I have found though is that when we listen, we are usually more respected, and often get across many things without saying a word…and…when we do speak, we have taken time to think out something that doesn’t get us in trouble and will probably be a more cogent and valuable contribution.
So, how is it done? First, just shut up! It’s that easy. Second, not so easy, you must really pay attention, leave distractions behind (put down your phone!!!) and hear what people are saying. This means not judging, not reading anything into their words, not taking a stand for your agenda, and being willing to see another point of view. The act of listening means hearing without preconceived notions and without worry about what you will say in return.
In addition, I have found listening to be possibly the best leadership tool of all. It builds a following and demonstrates the service attitude necessary for great leadership. Ironic though since most people think leaders are the talkers. But ironic as it may sound, great leaders are listeners.
I am also finding listening to be a great parenting and relationship tool. It has made me a better father and husband. It has made me a better friend. This is in direct opposition to my mouth. It has given me more problems by a long shot.
Listening. Try it. Put down your phone and open your ears. Show someone you care. Turn off your own wants, needs, and thoughts. Just listen. You might be amazed at the gifts you receive.