Waiting to talk is not Listening

Pick your management guru and each will say, listen.

  • Stephen Covey: “Pass the torch and listen.”
  • Susan Scott: “Waiting to talk is not listening.”
  • Keith Ferrazzi: “When you ask someone’s opinion, your next job is to listen and give a damn.”
  • Marshall Goldsmith: “Let go of ‘yes, but…’ – stop adding too much value and listen.”
  • Tim Sanders: “Recognize and welcome appreciation with a simple Thank you.”
  • Warren Bennis: “Ask a probing question and then listen.”
  • David Whyte: “The conversation IS the relationship.”

Mark Goulston‘s new book, Just Listen, seeks to help people build stronger and more creative relationships through the power of deep listening.  Once you’ve been patient and thoughtful to learn effective listening skills, he says there are a few things you can do to encourage open listening in those you are speaking with.  Often when presenting a new or provocative idea, your audience may metaphorically cross their arms in their mind.  Even if they don’t provide any physical clues as to their position or opinion, if you can get them to gesticulate and open up in their posture and body language, their opinion is likely to follow.  A simple mechanism is to ask, “Can you show me what you mean by that?  Can you draw it for me?”  By asking for an illustration, it will engage their visual and creative energy and they are more likely to open their mind to new ideas.  Also by asking a provocative question, you’ll sharpen their listening skills because they understand you expect them to be active participant in the conversation, and not simply waiting to talk.  The tip is: get your audience to open up their posture and their mind will follow.