Shut Up and Listen

ListeningOne of the most common misconceptions about leadership is that you need to be a great speaker. While many of the world’s most influential leaders can command a crowd with their words, it’s what they do with their ears that truly inspires.

The art of listening has been lost in a world of endless tweets, status updates and blogs (cough cough). Much like a drunken party, our society continues to turn up the volume so that we can each have our turn to speak. And this is why being a great listener is such a powerful trait. Everyone wants to be heard, and we flock to the individuals that are willing to listen.

In Bob Burg’s book Endless Referrals, he claims you can have an entire conversation with a stranger without divulging any information about yourself, and still make it memorable. This is accomplished simply by asking the other person a stream of meaningful questions and engaging in their responses as an active listener. I’ve tried this approach myself at many networking events, and soon found myself surrounded by a crowd of eager speakers itching to be heard.

Challenge yourself today to become a more perceptive listener. Ask others how they are doing, what they are feeling, and if they have any ideas they want to share. Open your ears up to others often, and see what kind of impact it makes on your day.

I’m sure you’ll find being a great listener will get you much farther than being a constant broadcaster.

Have you had success letting others do the talking? Share your stories below, I’d love to listen to them!

  • Brittany E Richter

    I agree with this 100%, especially when thinking about social media and technology today. There’s so many more opportunities to listen and it’s take for granted. There are so many opportunities for companies to listen to what their customers have to say and use it as feedback and a way to grow their business, but it is ignored.
    Instead all they are concerned about is broadcasting.

    • Anonymous

      Great analysis Brittany. Gary Vaynerchuck is the king of this, and he’s built a $50+ million empire around listening to others, then telling them what they need to hear. 

  • http://twitter.com/lucienl01 lucien lufakalyo

    Stephen,
    I could not agree with you more, every where I look its people, broadcasting themselve, and they’ve all forgot the fact that they have two ears and one mouth. however, as you stated, there are opportunity and its up to wise men and women to take advantage of them. 

    • Anonymous

      Indeed, broadcasting is still essential for building credibility and catching the attention of others. But the effectiveness of your broadcasts is multiplied when you’re able to listen to others and communicate better. 

      I hope you’re one of the “wise ones” who is engaging in this practice Lucien!

  • Pjacobs

    Part of the reason I don’t tweet or face is that I want to guard my personal infomation, and the other part is what you observed.  To paraphrase Erasmus, in the land of talkers the listener is king.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve almost given up trying to protect my data. Try researching how much information of yours is stored in cookie data across the web and you’ll realize how little privacy is left. Its nuts!

  • Rachel Howe

    I think you’re exactly right. I hate the bosses that act like a know-it-all or they nod acting like they care what you’re saying, but they’re not actually “listening.”

    Btw, you should post a link to the Endless Referrals book suggestion above ;)

    • Anonymous

      Agreed, which is why its so important to be the person in the office who does listen. Your coworkers will show respect for you, and you’ll see yourself rising into a managerial role much faster.

      Great call on the link back, I’m sure Mr. Burg will be very appreciative (as well as anyone looking to buy the book!)