Below is an article I wrote for Forbes that will give you "Three Steps To Listening Your Way To Success." (3 min. read)
American financier and presidential advisor Bernard Baruch stated, "Most of the successful people I've known are the ones who do more listening than talking."
In 2006, Laura Janusik and Andrew Wolvin presented a paper at a meeting of the International Listening Association titled "24 Hours in a Day: A Listening Update to the Time Studies." In it, they suggested that listening occupies one-fourth of our waking hours.
But are we really listening for four-plus hours a day? Or much at all?
Success is too often tied to how we speak, and it's a shame because as Doug Larson states, "Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you preferred to talk."
Here are three steps to listening your way to success.
1. Learn how to listen.
Think about your youth. Parents or guardians waited with bated breath to hear the first word you would say. Family and friends listened to video calls, where you were spurred on to speak.
Ever attend a "listening" class in elementary school? Most likely not. Junior high and high school may have afforded you the option of pursuing a public speaking class. However, most likely, there were no listening labs offered. As you advanced in your professional career, someone may have encouraged you to attend Toastmasters so that you could talk more succinctly and sensationally. But as hard as you dig into your past, you probably won't discover a formalized listening learning path.
Listening won't come looking for you. You'll have to look for it. The solution? Self-study.
Take a class on active listening. Read books on listening skills. Invest time and money to become better at listening.
2. Listen to learn how.
If your goal is to learn something new today, you'll never get there by talking your way to it or through it.
The Dalai Lama stated, "When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new."
Learning is about listening. Put on a podcast. Turn to a TED Talk. Step your way into success by listening to learn.
One thing that I have recently done is turn to technology. I've downloaded several apps that are agents in luring me into a listening mode. Those apps move me toward music and meditation. Submitting to silence means putting myself in the best possible place to be prepared for new paradigms and possibilities.
3. Listen. Now.
Slow down. Stop speaking, and be silent. Try putting it into practice. It's time to launch listening into our daily lifestyle routines. Try it now, and watch it work.
The very first manager who mentored me in sales suggested I do a simple exercise after each sales call. He stated, "When you hang up the phone or get in your car after your sales call, ask one question. 'Who talked more: Me or the potential customer?'" He believed that if the potential or current client talked 80% of the time, we could forecast an 80% likelihood that the sale would close successfully. His simple rule of thumb for accurately adjusting the sales forecast was for me to deduct 10 percentage points for every 10% of the time that I talked more than the 80/20 ratio. More often than not, his sales suggestion was spot on. When I spoke, the sale died. When the customer talked, I was successful.
Today, more than ever, we need to become listeners. Take the time to learn how to listen, and then listen to learn how others feel, think and work. Start now. It's a proven path to more compelling communication.
Personal and professional success are linked to listening. Talk, and you'll have a tough time winning. Listen, and you'll have a tough time losing.