By Jeff Beals
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood,” wrote Stephen R. Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Too often we get that order mixed up. We focus on being understood as opposed to understanding those with whom we live and work.
Whether your role is executive, managerial, sales, customer service or anything else, it is critically important to your success that you listen.
Super executive Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Chrysler, once said, “I only wish I could find an institute that teaches people how to listen. Business people need to listen at least as much as they need to talk. Too many people fail to realize that real communication goes in both directions.”
Iacocca’s statement reminds me of the old saying, “God gave you one mouth and two ears; use them proportionately.”
In other words, we should listen twice as much as we talk. I call it the “Rule of Thirds.”
Two-thirds of the time you spend talking with a colleague, client or a prospect should be focused on the other person. One-third of the time is focused on yourself.
“No man ever listened himself out of a job,” said former U.S. president Calvin Coolidge. Simply put, listening is one of the top skills required for professional success.
Why is focusing on the other person so important? The answer is simple: most people are rather self-absorbed. They are their favorite subjects.
If you show earnest, sincere interest in a person’s “favorite subject,” he or she can’t help but like you. They will feel a connection with you. Showing sincere interest by truly listening disarms colleagues and clients and paves the way for your success.
You might be wondering to whom you should listen. Who is worthy of your attention? Who deserves your best listening skills? That’s easy: everyone. You never know who has the right information for you or knows just the right person you need to meet.
Sam Walton, the late founder of Wal-Mart, once said, “The key to success is to get out into the store and listen to what the associates have to say. It’s terribly important for everyone to get involved. Our best ideas come from clerks and stock boys.”
When it comes to listening, remember to do it sincerely and remember that everyone counts.
Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (402) 637-9300.
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