Talk Less Listen More

In my previous business, we would start each morning with a daily meeting. This meeting normally lasted anywhere from ten to twenty minutes. For the former five years, I always started out leading the meeting. I would cover all the topics for the day and team members would give their input. However, I was the “big dog.” I guess I had an ego; I found it necessary to be the driver of the organization.

During the meeting, we would review our number one Key Performance Indicator, or KPI, and discuss what would take place that day. This was our setup for the day; if someone needed support to accomplish their goal, we all could be aligned.

One day I discovered, after a very long time, that I was going through the motions. Yes, what I covered in the meeting was important in regards to  how we conducted our daily business—or so, I thought.

“If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk.” – Robert Baden-Powell

My Take Away

I had recently attended a seminar where one of the key note speakers discussed that listening was a lost art. After I returned to the office, I had time to reflect on what I could take away from the information I gathered. I asked myself the question—do I listen enough? After consideration, I decided that no, I did not spend enough time listening.

What Changed and Why

After coming to the conclusion that I was not listening enough, I made the decision to change and give listening a chance. I knew, deep inside, we did not need to change what we were doing, but we did need to change how we were doing it.

That was the day I started listening to what was going on and then asking questions. This became the real game changer; it is amazing what you fail to hear in meetings when you’re the main person doing the talking. When you listen, you start positioning yourself to make better decisions. I wondered how it could be so simple when you’re talking you’re not listening. Your brain has a hard time allowing you to multitask because you’re always thinking about what you will say next, rather than concentrating on what was just said.

My Challenge

Here is my challenge to you, go into your next meeting and just listen and take notes.  Next, instead of talking at this point, write any questions you can think of that you want to know the answer to. You will be surprised what you hear and the questions that will come up.

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” – Peter Drucker

What Do You Do Next?

Repeat the listening drill for the next 7 meetings until it becomes a habit. After the 7 meetings, you will find that listening becomes your normal way of doing business. Your employees will be a little unsettled in the beginning because you have always been the driver and now you’re taking it all in. You’re now in the daily position to listen and ask the right questions. In some cases, you may know the solution, but you will find out if your employees know the answers.

“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.” – Jim Rohn

Staying Two Steps Ahead

My goal is to always be two steps ahead; I do this by improving my listening skills. The more I learn to listen, the more informed I am. This has been a hard skill to master but I’ve made it a habit and good habits are hard to break.

What steps have you taken in your business to improve your listening skills?