Waiting For The Other To Stop Talking

In my interventions I always explain that in our culture listening is more like “waiting for the other to stop talking” and the more senior we are, the more we talk.

The most effective leaders are those that talk less and ask more. The reasons for this is clear, as letting someone else come up with an answer to a insightful question will make them own the solution and more likely to make it happen. However I found an even more powerful explanation in Verne Harnish’s blog, in which he compares listening to giving and talking to taking. In his words: “Listening is giving attention; talking is taking attention. Asking questions is inviting others to participate; making statements is taking away their opportunity to contribute. If leaders can keep the give vs. take framework in their mind as they go through their everyday activities, they’ll have a values-based compass for taking the right actions and making the best long-term decisions.”

The problem of course is that listening and asking the right question is much more difficult then talking. My suggestion: bite your tongue and whilst you listen think of a question that allows the other to come up with an answer that is in line with what you were thinking.

And you know what you will find? That the answers that you get are probably more creative and insightful than what you originally wanted to tell them.

– Paul Keijzer


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