Listen To This- The Most Powerful Tip I Know For Business Success

Blog7mayWhen 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.

  1. Yes- we know. Shut the f**k up.
  2.  Don’t interrupt. (Peters calls it ‘the 18 second manager’… are you someone who listens for 18 seconds and then interrupts with your view….?)
  3.  Maintain eye contact.
  4.  Keep as present as you can- force distraction out of your mind- get as interested as you can.
  5.  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?
  6.  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!”


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20 Responses to Listen To This- The Most Powerful Tip I Know For Business Success

  1. kamal May 7, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    Hi Chris
    I love the post
    this is brilliant!
    most people i find want to solve your issue but sometimes its about being present as the other person

    • Chris Savage May 7, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

      Thanks Kamal!

  2. Jeff Estok May 7, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

    I hear you! (pardon the pun). I read a GREAT book 30 years ago called The Tao Of Leadership, by John Heider, that forever changed my approach to listening in meetings. I’ve included part of that learning:

    Servant leaders appreciate that listening is a gateway to obtaining information and building understanding with others. Listening silently but significantly acknowledges the importance of the other. The servant leader understands that there is often more power in their silence than in their words. They also appreciate that listening is more than hearing– it includes the ability to read how a message is being delivered and hear what is unspoken. As Peter Drucker once said: “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”

    The other pertinent learning from that book is: “Seek first to understand, and then be understood.”

    We are big believers in the art of ‘active listening’, and include it, and The Tao Of Leadership, in our Account Service Training Courses. A practical, yet, powerful read. I highly recommend it.

    Jeff Estok

    • Chris Savage May 7, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

      Thanks Jeff…. learnt a lot from that. Thanks. Chris

  3. sue-ella mcdowall May 7, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    Words of wisdom! I love your blogs, Chris.
    Listening is such common sense & common courtesy but very few do it. What I’m noticing is a trend to compete for voice/opinion by overtalking, over-taking the conversation & interrupting. I know disruption is the cool new thing but its not cool to be rude. Could the next cool thing be “quiet & mute”? Keep the blogs coming.

    • Chris Savage May 7, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

      Thanks Sue-Ella- appreciated!

  4. Russ May 7, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    As you know Chris, I talk WAYYYYYY too much and I am also quite fond of swearwords. It’s like this post was written just for me!!

    Timely advice and a reminder to go urge some close and trusted colleagues to be my ‘Dave’.

    • Chris Savage May 8, 2014 at 11:58 am #

      Well said Russ. Chris

  5. Charmaine May 7, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    Brilliant Chris. Most people should read this and take the advice on board. I have been fortunate enough to meet one or two people who I believe are truly great listeners but no more than that. I’m still learning too!

    • Chris Savage May 8, 2014 at 11:57 am #

      Thanks Charmaine.

  6. Gary May 7, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

    Funny that the first and most important thing learnt on my MBA was exactly that.

    The power of listening (and now 4years of improving that)

    • Chris Savage May 8, 2014 at 11:57 am #

      Thanks Gary!

  7. Jane Young May 7, 2014 at 9:33 pm #

    Thanks Chris, I am really trying to be a good listener and I know I could do much better at this. It ‘s my key focus for the next week, cheers, Jane

    • Chris Savage May 8, 2014 at 11:56 am #

      Thanks Jane!

  8. Larry Robertson May 8, 2014 at 8:46 am #

    I agree. Some of best advice I’ve given (by a highly regarded international speaker/trainer) was “Don’t interrupt!”. Many thanks for the reminder, Chris!!

    • Chris Savage May 8, 2014 at 11:59 am #

      Thanks Larry!

  9. Hayley Buckner May 8, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    “The art of conversation lies in listening” –Malcom Forbes

    • Chris Savage May 9, 2014 at 10:26 am #

      Thanks Hayley!

  10. Rhons du Toit May 13, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

    I am going to say this to myself every morning and many, many people around me would be so happy if I am able to stick to it.

    • Chris Savage May 13, 2014 at 8:03 pm #

      Thanks Rhons

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