The Disaster of Big Mouths and Small Ears
Leaders fail when their mouths are too big and their ears are too small. Listening is powerful because it informs talking. The only way leaders know what to say is to listen.
Great leadership is great listening.
On a recent drive with a young leader I noticed how he’s learned to talk less and listen more. He’s able to hold his tongue, something few can do. I admire his growth.
Talking vs. Listening:
I’ve only met a handful of great listeners in my life. Typically, talking invigorates; listening exhausts.
Why so much talking:
Too much talking is the result of too little listening. People who don’t feel heard frequently talk more. Admittedly, some clam up. But, those with passion usually talk more.
The less you feel heard the more you need to talk.
The moment someone feels understood their need to talk, explain, or defend diminishes.
Goal of listening:
The goal of listening only begins with understanding; it ends with making others feel understood.
The first step toward exceptional listening is embracing silence. Just stop talking. Once you’re comfortable with silence you can step toward making others feel understood. Silence isn’t enough.
Acceptance makes people feel understood. The reason we don’t extend acceptance is because we’re afraid it means approval. We’re stingy with approval.
Listening to judge rather than understand
makes people feel judged.
Learn to extend acceptance with your tone, facial expressions, and questions. You earn the right to challenge an idea after you understand and accept it. Ask how might this work rather than explaining why it won’t, for example.
Take the comments of others seriously and they’ll get serious about what they say. Dismissing suggestions, off handedly, invites adversarial interactions.
Making people feel understood opens hearts and minds. If you want people to listen to you, listen to them.
What happens in you when you feel listened to?
What makes people feel understood?
I feel like survived the conversation when I’m heard.
True `understanding` could make occasional muddy waters. You enlighten that when someone feels understood, they will talk as silence isn’t enough and you also pointed out too much talking is due to lack of listening?!
Good thinking, I like. Thank you.
Jas 1:19 ¶ Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: (KJV) Great truth here. AS a Pastor I especially connected with the part about acceptance. The religious world too often “listens to judge.” Acceptance does not mean approval, acceptance just means you care. Thnaks for starting my day out thinking!
Joe’s Rule of Leadership #1 – Listen First.
Rule #2 – Speak when you need to, not just when you want to.
I love this Blog!! Great and relevent leadership tips!!
Great post Dan! Listening is critical to success. I love the quote that you started the post with –
“Leaders fail when their mouths are too big and their ears are too small” – AWESSOME stuff.
“Say what you have to say and the first time you come to a sentence with a grammatical ending – sit down.” – Winston Churchill
Great post, Dan! Seems like as leaders we sometimes feel that more talk will get the point across better. Truth is, if we take a few moments to listen to others, they will tell us how to lead them.
Love your posts, always challenging and uplifting. Keep up the good work.
Listening opens heart and mind. Talking blocks heart and mind. It is powerful sentence. I will share my experience why do people talk more. It depends upon many factors- Their ability, organizational culture and people working with them. Generally people with less ability or no ability talk more. They talk to hide their weaknesses and to show that they are better knowledgeable than others. This arises out of their unwillingness to accept reality. In the organizations, where external appearance is viewed more optimistically, talkers grow more in number. The reason is simple. This is the best way to show their presence. However, when leaders create environment that foster superficial culture then talkers find comfort. And hence realize others that they are outperformers.
When I feel listened to, I feel respected. People feel understood when they find solutions in your talk. Listening is an attitude that comes out of personality, character and experience. Talking is also an attitude that comes out of personality, character and experience. But truly speaking, I have seen leaders who bring positive change to environment are generally listeners. And those who are talkers generally spoil the environment.
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” – Steven Covey
Thank you for this great post Dan. As always it is full of leadership pearls to live by. I hope my ears will continue to get bigger
Great advice. I will heed it!
This is why I left my former job. :\
Not sure if you have read Leading with Questions by Michael J. Marquardt, I am right in the middle of it and this post is very, very relevant.
I haven’t read, Lead with Questions. Sounds like I should.
Absolutely true. My experience, listening is the most important, least used skill in business. Great Blog. Thanks.
“If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.” — Turkish Proverb