I know from personal experience that it can be hard not to jump to conclusions, not to leap forward with assumptions, and to not try and prescribe before diagnosing.
Stop. At least for one conversation today … stop.
Then … Listen. Wait. Learn. (aka LWL)
We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. ~ Epictetus
This is an old saying you’ve probably heard from your parents or grandparents about your two ears and your one mouth … and to use them in proportion.
This is not a way to make you stop talking. Rather it’s a way to get you to think about listening AND talking.
When you Listen … you can learn a lot.
When you are talking … you are sharing what you already know.
Full Disclosure: Sometimes as I’m talking I’m fleshing out my thoughts. Sometimes I just need to hear it to think through it.
I m not suggesting this as a best practice, but I know I do it and I suspect some of the people reading this do too.
If this is you … raise your hand.
The recommendation here is the same as Epictetus and your grandparents … Listen Twice as Much as Your Talk.
Try it … and see what happens.
Filling the Silence
This is a common tactic for interviewers, but it’s not a trick. You can learn a lot in the silence. Human nature has a tendency to fill the silence. Especially when someone is nervous … as they would be during an interview.
The point is … if you Listen and Wait … you will Learn.
Silence is beautiful, not awkward. The human tendency to be afraid of something beautiful is awkward. ~ Elliot Kay
You will learn what the other person is trying to say, trying to do, trying to convey. This is not a trick or some contrivance to get something out of the other people. Rather it’s a courtesy to them to allow them to say what they want, at their pace, and when they want.
This is something we often cannot do very effectively today in meetings. Where it seems there is always someone who is just waiting for their chance to let their brilliance be known. As we have seen, this is especially not common in the current political battles. Where they are more focused on shooting off insults and interrupting one another.
Perhaps it’s time for a change.
In your next conversation … whether it’s with your manager, your peers, your spouse or anyone else … Stop. And then … Listen. Wait. Learn.
As you become better at this you will stand out in your career. People will come to you because … you listen. Of course, you’ll want to balance your listening skills with your wise and thoughtful responses … when you are ready and in proportion.
After you’ve tried this (preferably a few times) add your comments here. I’d like to hear how it worked out for you. I’m ready to … Listen. Wait. and Learn … when you are.