“Listen a hundred times. Ponder a thousand times. Speak once.”~Anonymous
When we talk about leadership, we can never speak enough about listening…maybe because no one really listens when we do! It’s so hard to listen. We’re driven to share something, to contribute, to show our intelligence…or to fight against an idea, to refute, to push back…or simply to get away to focus on what is truly important to us in that moment, whether it be another topic, another person, or even lunch.
Over the years I’ve coached many clients to listen more. “Don’t even open your mouth during conversations,” I offer. “Always start with a question,” I suggest. “Don’t offer your opinion until you’ve asked them for their solutions and ideas,” I counsel. And then I take things a step further, and suggest they actually stop and think – ponder – before they respond. Both listening and pondering are foundations of “thoughtful leadership” – leadership that is intentional, reflective, and driven toward effective, value-adding results.
Being one of those people who likes to talk, who truly thinks out loud, I’ve realized the wealth of ideas, information, solutions, and brilliance I miss when I’m always speaking – because I simply don’t leave room for others around me to share their thoughts. I’ve also realized the value that’s added when I think things through, when I carefully consider options, opinions, and all sides of an issue before I share my thoughts out loud. I’ve learned the strength of listening, and pondering, as hard as they might be for me.
And I promise I’ll let you tell me your thoughts about it as soon as I finish talking…
Where can you listen more? Where can you ponder more? What will it take? Next time you feel absolutely compelled to speak, hold your thoughts, count to ten, think things through, and listen to what’s going on around you and what others have to say.