Saturday, April 07, 2007

Curious about Listening: How Do We Become Better Listeners? How Important Is It?

One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” - Bryant H. McGill, American poet

If you make listening and observation your occupation you will gain much more than you can by talk.” - Robert Baden-Powell, English soldier

I think that most of us know how important “Listening” is. But, I ask you, how effective a “Listener” are you? I was reminded of this fine art and important skill while reading, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful” by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter.

Goldsmith works with successful executives who, even though successful, have habits or a habit that need(s) to be “fixed.” And one is the lack of effective listening. As I read this section, I realized that I need to work on this area. I love to talk and know that I sometimes - even when listening - tend to jump in with a statement and/or an idea that is generated by something someone else has said.

When I searched for “Listening” quotations, I was overwhelmed by the number and scope. Many were in the field of music, and, though important, I haven’t included many of them. I think you will be grateful for the thoughts expressed by the experts.

Some general quotations about “Listening”:
  • Most of the successful people I've known are the ones who do more listening than talking.” - Bernard Baruch, American businessman
  • I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I'm going to learn, I must do it by listening.” - Larry King, American entertainer
  • Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” - Leo Buscaglia, American author
  • One learns more from listening than speaking. And both the wind and the people who continue to live close to nature still have much to tell us which we cannot hear within university walls.” - Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian explorer
  • It's only through listening that you learn, and I never want to stop learning.” - Drew Barrymore, American actress
  • So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it.” - Jiddu Krishnamurti, Indian philosopher

Additional quotations that add more dimensions:

  • The opposite of talking isn't listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.” - Fran Lebowitz, American journalist
  • Listening is the only way to entertain some folks.” - Kin Hubbard, American journalist
  • Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery.” - Joyce Brothers, American psychologist
  • Storytelling captures an aspect of childhood experience when being told a story was a common ritual. It's a warm place for most of us and in some ways represents our first experience in really listening.” - Paul Lansky, American composer
  • The best way to persuade people is with your ears - by listening to them.” - Dean Rusk, American diplomat
  • The art of effective listening is essential to clear communication, and clear communication is necessary to management success.” - James Cash Penney, American businessman
  • I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” - Ernest Hemingway, American novelist

And here are several to work on this coming week. I know that I plan to focus on “Listening.” How about you?

  • Sticking to your values, listening to your instincts, making your own choices is so important.” -Brittany Murphy, American actress
  • The writer is always tricking the reader into listening to their dream.” - Joan Didion, American author
  • If you want to make someone feel emotion, you have to make them let go. Listening to something is an act of surrender.” - Brian Eno, British musician

Do let me know how you do? Making the conscious effort to “Listen” completely will not only change our lives, but will also change others’ attitudes toward us.

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