Communications 101: Listen More than You Talk

Who is wiser, the person who talks a lot or the person who listens the most? Clearly, people who listen well are among the wisest. First, they gain valuable insights from others. Secondly, they avoid revealing their own ignorance or incompetence. “Talk is cheap,” and those who talk the most often deliver the least in terms of tangible results. Better to remain silent and obscure than to make a big splash but fizzle out with nothing to show for all the fanfare.

In communicating, don’t just “hear” what others say, but truly “listen.” Tune in and try to understand the other person’s point of view. Valid or invalid, reasonable or unreasonable, you have to understand where the other person is coming from in order to have meaningful dialog and a significant relationship. Business leaders can never be isolated but must engage with their teams. Listening is vital.

I am impressed with people who have insightful questions and who truly listen. They give the impression of being wiser than most. Because of this, I often come away from those types of conversations wishing that I had asked more questions, listened more, and talked less.

I have also learned that people enjoy talking about themselves and what they do. Ask them engaging questions about what they’re interested in the most, themselves. You will be popular, not because of the brilliant and witty insights you articulate, but because of your attentiveness.

Finally, think before you speak. Never hesitate to listen and engage. When it comes to talking, less is often better.