Malcolm Forbes was an American sailor, balloonist, motorcyclist, and entrepreneur-by-inheritance. This outspoken owner of Forbes Magazine once said,
“You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.”
We all listen, but do we really listen well? It’s been said that good listening is much more than staying silent when the other person talks. It’s being present in the moment, in the here and now. It is not thinking about what we will say in response.
Have you ever been to a business event where a moderator passes the microphone around the room for introductions? If so, did you attentively listen to each introduction, or were you silently preparing for you own?
“Never miss a good chance to shut up.” Will Rogers
The human tendency is to move toward people who listen to us, and away from those who talk only about themselves. So if you want to be remembered, become a good listener! Practice staying in the moment and maintaining eye-to-eye contact. Turn toward your speaker and actively listen.
Listening, really listening, requires a decision on our part to care what someone else has to say and accept their words with an open mind and without premature judgement. It’s so easy to think to ourselves, “I would have done that differently” or “I see that differently” — but in those moments we are no longer listening; we are unable to empathize or attempt to understand another point of view.
A good listener is more likely to be successful. Bernard Baruch, American financier and statesman, offered this advice:
“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.”
We can challenge ourselves to embrace listening as a key part of how we operate, and we can practice-to-perfection active listening until it runs deep into who we are, what we do, and how we do it.