If you want to catapult ahead of others on the treadmill of success, try silence - the silence of listening. Zip your mouth and refuse to interrupt or break into the other person's thoughts. This takes a high degree of discipline, especially if you have an outgoing, social personality, but it is definitely worth the effort. It is okay to briefly interject an occasional "Hmmm," "Ah," or "I see," but no more.
True listening is actually silent flattery! Plus, it builds teamwork, trust, and a sense of belonging to a group. It earns you respect and, perhaps most importantly, cooperation. In addition it will:
Proper listening also includes avoiding body language signals or facial expressions that say, "I'm okay but you're definitely questionable"! Appropriate listening should instead communicate, "You are important and I'm not judging you." When people feel safe with you, they will lower their guard with you much like they would to a trusted counsellor or skilled psychologist. They will become comfortable relaying things to you that they would never reveal in an antagonistic environment.
Only by appropriately listening can you learn what others truly know and think about a difficult choice. By gathering different insights and outlooks, you will be armed with information that will help you make better decisions.
At some point during the listening process, you undoubtedly will be exposed to bizarre opinions and bad ideas. It is important to restrain your initial human impulse to say, "That's the stupidest thing I've heard this century!" Comments like this will ultimately turn the now-embarrassed speaker into nothing more than a robot that functions according to what they perceive as your views. In the future they will not share their genuine thoughts and feelings for fear of additional embarrassment and rejection. This leads inevitably to depriving YOU of critical input you need to develop additional innovations.
To refresh your memory on this forgotten skill of listening, here is what it looks like:
Give meaningful conversations your full attention and you will catapult your career to the top with the friends you make and the information you gain just through the silence of listening.
"It is the province of knowledge to speak,
and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen."
--Oliver Wendell Holmes, American writer and poet
Karla Brandau, CSP, is an expert in change, leadership and team building in the flat world. She offers keynotes and workshops to move your organization forward. Sign up for her monthly newsletter, From the Desk of Karla Brandau by going to Karla Brandau.com. Get your free poster of suggested listening skills.