Listen To This- The Most Powerful Tip I Know For Business Success
When my colleague says these four powerful words of advice, I know they are pure gold. Yet I struggle to follow them. If you want to succeed in whatever you do, then don’t be like me. Listen to him, and embrace these four magical words. Here they are.
First, a story. Tom Peters says this: “I hate MBA programs but if I was to design my own MBA program it would have two streams…Strategic Listening One and Strategic Listening Two.” Peters knows being a great listener is the key to being effective, adding value, making a contribution.
Now- before you tune out, do you want to know these four ‘golden’ words of advice on how to become an outstanding listener? I do. I need to. I am a poor listener. Very good with clients. Poor with colleagues – though I am improving (with real effort and hard work). If I want to turbo my improvement, I have to follow his big four words of pure gold counsel to becoming a great listener. Here they are:
Shut the f**k up.
It’s as simple as that.
STOP TALKING, and start listening. BE SILENT. Be patient. Let the other person finish what they are saying.
Then take it a step further. Here are five other big tips to becoming a great listener.
- Yes- we know. Shut the f**k up.
- Don’t interrupt. (Peters calls it ‘the 18 second manager’… are you someone who listens for 18 seconds and then interrupts with your view….?)
- Maintain eye contact.
- Keep as present as you can- force distraction out of your mind- get as interested as you can.
- And here’s another gem from a different colleague: “Listen to what is being MEANT, not to what is being said.” I love this. Keep searching for the real message they want to convey- what is being meant by those words?
- And finally, when they go silent, ask questions. Delve a step further, clarify, probe for more context… do this before then giving your view.
This colleague has helped me a lot with my listening. When we have a meeting, we start with chit chat, then he puts his hands on my shoulders. “Chris- I want you to focus now. Look in my eyes. Keep absolutely present. I need you to listen to me for a few minutes. And then I need your counsel.” And as I start to listen, sometimes I drift away. “Focus!” he murmurs. I listen. And then I interrupt. “Stop!” he says.“Stay silent. LISTEN!”
And gradually, I improve. Step by step. Meeting by meeting. I am forcing myself to improve. To go into a room prepared and ready to listen. And it all starts with reminding myself and embracing this colleague’s most powerful tip of all. Four words. Big words. “Shut the f**k up!”