If God wanted us to talk more and listen less, I think he would have given us one ear and two mouths.
Several times a day, I’ll open the notes app on my phone and type in a thought or an idea that has just crossed my mind so I don’t forget. At some point, I’ll write about it in a post, blog, or chapter of my next book.
Last night I met a sweet older married couple. We were having drinks, and after about 45 minutes, I pulled out my phone, tapped on the notes icon, and wrote, “be interested, not interesting.”
After more than 2 hours together, I knew much about them, their dogs, children, and grandchildren, yet they would have failed a three-question quiz about me.
At some point, we have all been equally guilty, going on and on, telling our stories, always looking to top their stories. It can become uncomfortable and annoying for the listener, who’s looking for the closest escape route. Meanwhile, the storyteller regards the listener as fabulous and continues on and on.
Human beings are great storytellers. Stories are how we connect, compare, and show compassion. And when people listen to our story, it gives us validation.
However, the secret of success in any area of life is not in how masterfully we tell our story. It’s in how masterfully we listen to the stories others are telling us.
The value is in listening.
Listening means making a conscious effort to hear what people are saying, digest it and understand.
Talking doesn’t make you a better communicator. Listening does. It also makes the experience of speaking to you more enjoyable to other people.
Try it. Next time you meet someone, ask questions. Listen intently. Ask more questions. Listen to understand, not to find an opening for you to take your turn.
Act interested, not interesting.
Watch how quickly you bond.