The Big Mouth Problem

You’re less likely to say something stupid if you listen more and speak less.

Leaders need big ears and small mouths.

Warnings and wisdom:

Fools plug their ears and press forward into disaster, but listening is the beginning of learning.

Those who don’t listen can’t learn. John F. Kennedy said, “…leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” (

Transformation begins with listening.

Wisdom seems stupid to closed minds.

The usefulness of wisdom emerges AFTER you act wisely. Advice to ‘listen more and talk less,’ sounds foolish until you shut your mouth and practice listening. For example…

When you feel a need to get something off your chest, keep your mouth shut.

The result of not listening is worse than the pain of listening.

The ONE guideline for speaking is simple. Open your mouth to make things better.

5 powers of listening:

#1. Elevate status. Listening to others makes them feel important. Those who feel insignificant are less likely to make significant contribution.

#2. Increase energy. You never get the best from others when you close them down.

#3. Extend validation. The difference between validation and agreement is listening. You don’t have to agree with everyone, but skillful leaders validate with listening.

People don’t need agreement, they need to feel heard.

It’s more important to listen than it is to give people what they want.

#4. Strengthen connection. You can’t influence those who feel misunderstood.

#5. Express care. Leaders who don’t listen don’t care.

3 listening tips:

#1. Listen to understand. Even the great speakers like Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King Jr. understood people.

#2. Listen to understand hopes, goals, emotion, and dreams.

#3. Listen like you’re listening to a young child. What do you do while listening to a two-year old? Do that with adults. (Yes, tone it down some, but give it a try.)

What listening tips do you have for leaders?

Bonus material:

17 Reasons People Aren’t Listening to You (Inc)

Being Heard is the Psychological Equivalent of Air (PT)