We talk a lot about listening, and there’s no shortage of books or quotes surrounding the topic, including this one:
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” – Epictetus
When I was younger, I remember adults asking me questions, and it sometimes felt like a Charlie Brown episode, if you remember, with the teacher’s “wah-wah” voice. It wasn’t until my wife and I had our daughter, that I realized that I didn’t want to be that to her.
Scott Akerley, Pango Group’s CEO, has always been one of the best listeners I have ever met. He has had this skill ever since we were kids.
I remember the first time that Dori met him. She looked at me and said, “Who is that guy?” I looked at her and said, “I know. Everyone loves him. He’s smart, good looking – the list went on.” Her response was, “No, he’s just amazing!” She couldn’t remember what they even talked about; only that he was a great listener.
One of Scott’s superpowers is that no matter what is going on in another office or if there’s a world-wide pandemic, he’s always present and is solely focused on listening to the person he is talking with at that given moment.
One thing he does (or at least I think he does) is he listens to understand. He doesn’t listen to confirm what he already believes. He looks you straight in the eye, and you just feel heard.
So, that is my suggestion for all of us.
Listen to understand. Look the person in the eye, acknowledge that you’re listening through body language (that means putting your phone down!). Let them know they are genuinely being heard. Don’t interrupt to tell them what they should do. Show empathy and be engaged. If they ask for your opinion or help, offer it. But don’t let that be the interaction’s focal point.
When we take this approach versus going into a conversation with an agenda, we allow ourselves to learn and grow, discover outcomes to challenges, and become better versions of ourselves.
So, try it in our next conversation and be aware of how different (and awesome!) it feels.
Life is good. – Jeff
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