“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.”
–Bernard Baruch, American financier and statesman
Listening is one of the best ways to learn from others. But how often do we really pause long enough to digest, process, and understand what someone is saying before we jump to respond? Probably not as often as we’d like.
Listening is a huge communication tool. It minimizes misunderstandings and conflict, builds trust, and can help make more meaningful personal and professional relationships. Author and mentor Scott Miller couldn’t agree more. In Episode 20 of Think Deeply, Speak Simply—Listen to Learn—Scott shares that listening is a highly underrated art form that can be a huge shortcut to success. By consulting your mentors, bosses, peers, and employees, you can consistently surprise yourself and learn new lessons.
So how can you start being a more impactful listener? Here are Scott’s favorite tips.
Be quiet and take notes
No good leader is a poor listener. Listening is a leadership competency and we all need to improve it to be more effective communicators. Be aware of your propensity to interrupt. When engaging in a conversation, close your lips and open your ears. Be quiet and take notes.This allows the other person to talk until they are completely finished and gives you ample time to absorb and process rather than focusing on how to respond.
Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions, either! Don’t concentrate on what will make you look and sound smarter. Instead, be thoughtful and intentional with your questions. Ending the conversation by asking if the other person has anything to add is a great way to part ways with a final dose of wisdom.
Build trust with others
Establishing confidence of trust where others feel comfortable sharing their opinions is critical. Achieving this takes significant vulnerability, humility, and transparency. Be open about your desire to be a more impactful leader. Be just as receptive to learning about your strengths as your weaknesses. Do not dismiss, dispute, deny, or deflect feedback shared by your peers. Instead, accept it with open-mindedness and thanks.
Invite everyone to get out of their comfort zone to share their observations on how you can improve. Set the conditions where others feel safe speaking their truths. This will be worthwhile for everyone involved and is a huge opportunity for growth. To become a more influential leader, be willing to listen more than you speak.