Wisdom//

Shut up and listen

The art of listening to understand


When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen. — Ernest Hemingway

Think about the last time you received feedback at work. Did you take the words to heart as they were being spoken, or were you busy crafting in your mind a way to defend yourself?

How about the last time you listened to the “crazy” ideas of a co-worker? Were you listening with the intent to find value, or were you thinking of all the holes in their argument and how to shut them down?

What about the last time you spoke with a potential customer? Were you really trying to understand their business needs, or just coming up with new angles to sell your product?

When was the last time you had a conversation with someone you love and let their words actually soak into your soul? Or are you always busy thinking of your needs and how to make them understand?

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. — Stephen R. Covey

In business and in life, far too often, we simply listen to respond. Why is this the norm?! It seems the we are more concerned with pushing our agenda, or what we are going to say and how we are going to sound, than with trying to deeply understand the person we are speaking with.

This needs to change.

But really listening, instead of listening to respond, can be tough. It requires us to set aside our ego and our own personal objectives. Listening to understand demands that we open ourselves up to the idea that we don’t know it all, that we might not be the smartest person in the room, or that there may be the possibility of us not sounding as articulate as we hope. But if we don’t, we not only leave the person speaking feeling like they weren’t completely heard, we’re also short changing ourselves.

Slow down. Absorb. Appreciate the unique perspective every individual has.

When we listen to understand, we learn and we grow. We build stronger relationships, better teams, and greater companies. Who cares if our response is a little delayed and people might think we aren’t some constant wit-slinging articulate masterpiece of a human being?! Because honestly, we’re probably not. So really listen, and when we do respond, it is going to be that much more meaningful… and a few seconds of silence never hurt anyone.

Start listening to understand.

Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words. — Roy T. Bennett


Originally published at medium.com

James is the Editor of Life in Story.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Westend61 / Getty Images
Wisdom//

This Is the Best Advice You Can Ever Give Anybody

by Gustavo Razzetti
Wisdom//

Listening Provides a Rare Opportunity to Feel Understood

by Todd Davis
Community//

The Best Advice that No One Listens To

by Gustavo Razzetti

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.