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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Listening is a key to success

Listen, George, listen. We talked about listening last night in our marriage class.

Debbie and I were eating alone at the dinner table the other night and Debbie was chatting away. Talking and having a conversation, it turned out, alone. And then she started answering herself!

At that point, I started laughing.

As we know, women are wired to be conversational with the capacity for 25,000 words a day.

Men are wired to be factual with the capacity for 15,000 a day. By the time we get home, we have used our quota up.

Yet, I am purposing in my heart to listen.

A few years ago Paine-Webber employed an advertising campaign that emphasized their ability to listen to the client's needs and custom-design an investment package for each one. You may remember the ads: "How did your broker know you wanted to retire early?" "He ASKED."

They were selling the idea that Paine-Webber representatives listen. The ability to listen is so rare, this major brokerage firm considers it a selling point.

Compare the success of this campaign with that of E.F. Hutton. Of course, everyone remembers "When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen." However, investors weren't impressed; today E.F. Hutton is out of business. Paine-Webber realized that people want to invest in a company with a reputation for listening, rather than one with a reputation for talking.

Getting a reputation for being a talker is easy: just open your mouth and let some sound come out. Eventually you'll get someone's attention. Developing a reputation as a listener is a different matter, and there's a "trick" to it. You've got to stop talking long enough to hear what others are saying, and—more importantly—you must value the other person, or you'll never be an effective listener.

Many successful people attribute their success to their ability to listen. Diane Sawyer said, "There is no substitute for paying attention." Sam Walton said "The key to success is to get out into the store and listen...Our best ideas come from clerks and stockboys." Chili's Restaurant says that 80% of its current menu came from suggestions made by employees and customers.

President Lyndon Johnson kept a sign on his wall that said, "You ain't learning nothing when you're doing all the talking."

Solomon said practically the same thing: "Let the wise men listen and add to their learning." (Proverbs 1:5) As we strive to become better listeners, let's remember these words.

Listen, listen, listen!

1 comment:

Jon said...

Solomon continues later on in the chapter (1:32-33): "Fools will die because they refuse to listen; they will be destroyed because they do not care. 33 But those who listen to me will live in safety and in peace, without fear of injury."

And further on, (10:19) "If you talk a lot, you are sure to sin. If you are wise, you will keep quiet."

And finally (13:3) "Those who are careful about what they say protect their lives, but whoever speaks without thinking will be ruined."

Aww, who got me lost in took me 20 minutes to get back out! I love that book! Anyway, I'm trying to spend more of my prayer time listening to God (about 20% talk and 80% listen) and I think I'll try that in the rest of my life as well. Pray for me!