Each week, I’m challenging myself to complete a Dare of the Week. A weekly goal designed to live more intentionally and be a better man. And I’m inviting you to join me.
THIS WEEK: SPEAK LESS AND LISTEN MORE
He had the rare opportunity to learn from some of the most influential people in his field. As he made his way through the convention hall, he introduced himself to various thought leaders and presenters at the event.
As the guy made his rounds, he shared with others his visions and plans for the future. He offered opinions on various trends and topics of the day. He even told a funny joke to break the ice with a speaker who looked like he needed it.
When the event was over, and he sat in the silence of his hotel room, it occurred to him: “I had the collective wisdom of some of the best thinkers around, but somehow, I did most of the talking.”
After beating myself up over my foolishness, I made a vow for the second day of the conference: speak less and listen more.
Sure enough, I found myself in position to visit with some brilliant people, but this time, I took a genuine interest in others, asked open-ended questions, and learned as much as I could.
Day Two was better than Day One.
Have you ever been in conversations, meetings, and other social situations and ended up doing most of the talking?
I know there’s a place for people like us. Others can be shy and we feel we must be the ones to get the communication flowing. But I would argue that effective communication is like playing catch—tossing back and forth to each other. Otherwise, you’re just playing catch with yourself.
If you want to be a better communicator (and human being) you must speak less and listen more. Here are a few reasons why:
- It conveys an interest in others. When you allow others to speak about themselves and their interests, it shows you place value on them. You tell them they are worth your time. When you open yourself up to others, you will discover remarkable people and stories you never would have known otherwise.
- Listening is a synonym for learning. It’s true. The less you say the smarter you seem. And when you finally do add your two cents, your words pack more power and impact. Beyond the appearance of intelligence, you can actually grow in intelligence, too. Listening is learning.
- It keeps you from being a tool. Have you ever met someone who babbles endlessly? Have you ever found yourself saying something stupid only to make it worse by trying to dig yourself out of the mess you made? I know I have. By listening intently and choosing our words wisely, we appear more thoughtful and mature. Two words commonly not associated with tools, but two words that should be associated with gentlemen.
This week’s dare is to work on speaking less and listening more. When you are in conversations at work, at home, or elsewhere, practice playing catch with others, not just with yourself. Be genuinely interested in other people, ask open ended questions, and seek to learn as much as you can.
Not only will you glean from the wisdom of others, but you may also make some existing relationships even better. That’s what good communication does.
That’s what I’m shooting for. How about you?
Will you accept this week’s challenge?