There’s rarely a time when I’m short on words. As a kid, I talked to everyone, from strangers in stores to the crosswalk guard. As a teenager, I talked to everyone, from umpires to ESPN camera crews. Which, I will add, featured me on an ESPN special about fans and nearly won me a new Toyota Tacoma. But, I digress.
What I’m saying is that I’ve been given the gift of gab. I’m not making assumptions or tooting my horn, I’ve just heard it enough to recognize its truth. However, I’ve come to realize, it’s a very dangerous thing.
Because it can lead me to believe that what I say matters more. That what I say is more important than what you hear. In order to know what you hear, I have to know where you are. If left unchecked, I will talk my way into failure. Failure to listen.
The Constant Battle
Although I’d consider myself a good listener, I’d much rather be talking. It’s a constant battle in my brain – to slow myself to listen. The other day, we were having dinner with some friends and I left thinking, What a great meal and great conversation! Liz felt differently.
After we dropped the other couple off, Liz said, “I really encourage you to listen a little more.”
It stung a little. Actually, it stung a lot. My natural response was to become defensive and out came the monkeys.
You know the defense monkeys don’t you? They’re the voices in your head that come out when you’re ready to fight; when you feel like you’ve got something to prove.
I did listen. I asked questions. I can’t help it if they didn’t want to talk.
Here’s the truth. It’s not about the talking or not talking, it’s about the topic of the conversation. If your conversations tend towards yourself, there’s a problem. It’s not about me is a mantra I’ve had to be intentional in learning.
One of the four RICH principles is:
INVEST IN OTHERS
You can’t possibly invest in them if you don’t listen to what they’re saying. When you listen, it lets people know that you care. It shows compassion. In a world where information flies around uninhibited and people are seemingly lost in the noise, we need to listen. Listening lets people know they matter. Everyone matters; I just have to listen.
Winston Churchill has a quote that rocks my world every time I get ready to open my mouth.
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
I’ve often thought it took more courage to be the speaker, but honestly, I think it takes more to be the listener.
And not simply a hearer, but a listener. There’s a difference.
So, I’m challenging myself to invest in others, to listen to what they have to say. Not with the intention on giving an answer, just simply listening. Listening not only helps you find out what they’re thinking, but it also helps you understand what they’re struggling with. You can’t help someone grow if you don’t know where they are.
Be courageous, be a listener.
Here’s my challenge:
Pick one person today that you will listen to. Give them your ear and attention. Meet them where they are and walk alongside.
Who will you invest in today?