My colleague often gives me four very powerful words of advice.
I know they’re pure gold. Yet I struggle to follow them. If you want to succeed in whatever you do, then don’t be like me. Embrace these four magical words:
Shut the **** up
It’s as simple as that.
Stop talking, and start listening. Be silent. Be patient. Let the other person finish what they’re saying.
Tom Peters says this:
“I hate MBA programs, but if I was to design my own MBA program it would have two streams: Strategic Listening One and Strategic Listening Two.”
Peters knows being a great listener is the key to being effective, adding value, making a contribution.
Here are five big tips to becoming a great listener:
- I’ll say it again: Shut the **** up.
- Don’t interrupt (are you someone who listens for 18 seconds and then interrupts with your view? Peters calls those people ‘18 second managers’).
- Maintain eye contact.
- Keep as present as you can – keep interested, and force distraction out of your mind.
- Another gem from a different colleague: “Listen to what is being meant, not to what is being said.” I love this. Keep searching for the real message they want to convey - what is being meant by those words?
- And finally, when they’re finished, ask questions. Delve a step further, clarify, probe for more context. Do this before giving your view.
My colleague has helped me a lot with my listening. And gradually - step by step, meeting by meeting - I’m forcing myself to improve. To go into a room prepared and ready to listen. And it all starts with embracing these four big words: Shut the **** up!