The Value in Listening

Perhaps it is because of the shortening of daylight hours (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), but autumn seems to be a time when inner reflection comes easier to a lot of folks. Lou Tice would keep journals of his thoughts, ideas, new affirmations, and sayings that resonated with him. Often, he would share them with others, like this one:

“We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.” (Native American saying)

There was a cable television movie made quite a few years ago, now. The movie was set in Africa, and dealt with ivory poaching and its threat to elephant populations – a situation that is still not solved decades later. There was one line that struck many a chord, which the program’s screenwriter gave to a young native teen character:

“How can your ears hear, when your mouth is so full of words?”

Draws quite the picture, doesn’t it? The very best communicators tend to be the very best listeners. As well, the best leaders tend to be the best listeners. They realize that there is much to learn from others, and the better the leader listens, the greater the employees engage with the goals of the organization. It’s value and respect writ large, with accompanying large results.

One of the greatest gifts any of us can give to another is our ability to just listen. There are times when we need to talk, and need to have someone listen to us. And then there are times when we need to return the favor. It means getting ourselves and our egos out of the way, and letting someone else take “center stage” for a while.

And, while we listen, we are building the other person – and building ourselves as well.