Listening Is My Native Language

Often the quietest voices are the easiest to overlook. A lot of communication is listening – not just lis-ten-ing to figure out what you want to say in response.” – Johnny Ive

Probably the biggest leaps in my careers have been when I have stopped myself from listening to respond as Johnny talks about above, and instead work harder at listening to learn. I got so many best practices and learned so much in those moments. It changes you if you can stop being antsy enough to control the urge to want to always talk over someone.

You get to really know someone when you let them talk. You make a connection of trust. Not everyone wants the answers you think you have. Some have the answers and all they need is someone to listen to them and help guide them on wether they are on the right track or not. When you can really listen to someone you become a collaborator and you become the white board for their best thoughts or ideas.

80% listening and 20% talking is not easy. Our minds are becoming more and more trained to listen in 10 second cycles. Listening is becoming a lost art and skill. We’re are already moving on to the next thing or our own thoughts, before two sentences have come out of the person’s mouth in front of us. You can tell when someone is not listening to you. I’m sorry, if you’re on your phone while talking to someone, you’re not all there. It’s impossible for your brain to do two things simultaneously. If you’re not looking me in the eyes, your not listening. If you’re fidgeting in your seat, you’re not listening.

I’ve been the person who is not the listener. I’ve been the person on the phone. So, what can we do to practice becoming a better listener? Make it your native language. You have a one on one meeting with someone throw your tech in to DND (Do Not Disturb), turn it off even, or leave it some place. When you’re fidgeting because you feel like your missing out on something more important, having it out of your reach is the better practice. Make listening the most important task you have at that moment to complete. Be obsessed with that task.

When the talker has released you, reflect their messaging back to them. Make sure you got it. Let them really know they were heard and listened to. It’s hard to not drift into other thoughts even with your tech completely out of reach or on DND. Bring a pad of paper and a writing instrument to take down notes after getting permission to do so. Capture the experience.

I’ll wrap with a great quote from Larry King:

“I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So, if I am going to learn, I must do it by listening.”

Listening really well means knowing what others have said or mean to say and then leaving them with a comfortable enough feeling that they have had their say.

Be present! People are in dire need of listeners. Yes, I dare say, you could even end up saving someone’s life because you listened more actively.

✌🏻 Shawn

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