Listening to audiobooks is one of my favourite things to do, especially when I’m on the road to Moncton, Charlottetown, Fredericton or Saint John. I’ve had the library app, OverDrive, on my phone for years and it feels like an exciting new gift every time I use it.
I recently listened to the book How To Think: A Survival Guide For A World At Odds, by Alan Jacobs. While much of the language of this book is annoyingly academic, it contains great stories and examples – and one tidbit of information that was not a light bulb moment for me but a lightning strike.
What was this amazing piece of wisdom? And how will it impact not only your business but all your relationships?
Jacobs includes in his book a story shared in 2012 by Basecamp founder, Jason Fried. While listening to a presentation at a conference, Fried instantly began focusing on how much he disagreed with the presenter’s point of view. He kept adding to his list of disagreements throughout the presentation. Afterwards, he approached the speaker and shared his reactions … and maybe even his outrage.
The presenter’s response – give it 5 minutes. As Fried shares, “Five minutes” represented “think”, not react.” As soon as Fried started his catalogue of disagreements with the presenter … he stopped listening. And when we aren’t listening (here comes the lightning bolt), we can’t think.
When we don’t listen, when we get caught up in reacting instead, we stay mired in what we already know, what we already believe about someone or something.
When we don’t listen, we focus on proving something, not learning something.
When we don’t listen we stay where we’re comfortable; we don’t grow and we don’t help others grow.
When we don’t listen, we don’t think.
And if we’re not thinking, how can we possibly help our clients and prospects? If we’re not thinking, how can we resolve issues with customers? If we’re not thinking, how can we make any relationship stronger and more vital? If we’re not thinking, how can we innovate?
We can’t. To reach our goals of increased sales, loyal customers, steadfast relationships and startling new ideas, we need to continually improve our ability to listen.
Do you have a listening practice? What does it look like? Share it here so all of us can find our way to becoming better listeners … and better thinkers.