The wise essayist La Rochefoucauld observed, “The reason why so few people are agreeable in conversation is that each is thinking more about what he intends to say than about what others are saying, and we never listen when we are eager to speak.”
Giving another your deepest attention is a sign of respect. And there are no bounds to what you may get in return — new ideas, a richer understanding of life, a better friend, a more fuller marriage — to name a few.
So, look at the person you are listening to. Block out all noise and distractions. Notice not just what’s being said but also the tone of voice. Free your mind of other thoughts and don’t worry about what you will say in response. Be receptive to all you hear, see and experience.
In our fast-paced age, the art of deep listening is the most important skill to master. In this hurry-up world, it can be tempting to cut short conversations, or use e-mail or send a text to avoid interacting with real people. My advice would be: don’t do it. You risk too much by failing to take the time to connect with those upon whose shoulders ultimately your business succeeds or fails. The next time someone stops you in the hall with a worried expression and asks: “Do you have a minute?” say “yes, for you, definitely… more than one.” Find a quiet space and then give liberally of your time, your focus, your attention.
Whatever you pay attention to is going to grow. If I pay attention to my garden, it’s going to grow. If I pay attention to my kids, they’re going to grow. If I pay attention to my marriage, it’s going to grow. If I pay attention to my work, it’s going to grow. Listening is the ultimate form of serving.
The greatest gift you can give somebody is your attention because your attention is your time, and your time is your life. You’re never going to get it back, and that’s why it is so precious when you give it. LISTENING PAYS!