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“Listen consciously to live fully.”

Julian Treasure


In a world that is faster and louder than ever, it can be challenging to slow down and truly listen.


How much talking do you do on an average day, and how much listening? 

I mean real listening, where you focus on what the other person is saying and take it in, instead of planning the brilliant thing you’ll say the moment the other person finishes speaking.

If you’re like most of us, the answer is: NOT ENOUGH. 

Most people tend to treat conversation like a competitive sport, in which the person who says the most, makes the cleverest point, persuades others of an opinion, or even speaks the longest and loudest is the winner. 

All of us fall into this trap.  We all find ourselves interrupting, speechifying, insisting, and coming up with witticisms – all to support our point of view or display our superior knowledge. 

If you stop and think about it, this approach is the opposite of the one we should take.  In most conversations, the person who speaks least benefits the most, and the person who speaks most benefits the least. 


Here’s why:

  1. Knowledge is power. A person who’s talking is giving away information.  A person who’s listening is receiving information.  Who gets the best deal in that exchange?
  2. You won’t reveal anything you’ll regret later. If you share information today, you can never take it back again. 
  3. You won’t say anything dumb. Abraham Lincoln said,

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

  1. You won’t use up your material. Most of us have a limited supply of interesting personal anecdotes, experiences, and pearls of wisdom.  So, inevitably, we wind up using the same ones over and over. 
  2. The person who’s doing the talking will feel understood and cared about. Most people go through life wishing to be listened to more.  So by listening rather than talking, you are giving something valuable to the person speaking.

How to Listen Better

  1. Be interested in other people. How many people do you meet who are only interested in themselves, their agenda, and their perspectives?  They have a closed mindset.  Bill Nye is quoted saying,

“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”

  1. Be present.The research shows that most people speak at about 125-150 words per minute, but we can think at over 400 words per minute.  So be aware of what you’re doing with all that spare bandwidth.
  2. Be willing to suspend your agenda.If we always have our agenda in mind, we’ll listen to respond rather than listen to understand and empathize.  
  3. Be open to ‘go with the flow.’  If you’re genuinely listening, you go where the speaker wants to go with their topic.

The Bible

James 1:19 says,

“Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”

The problem with listening is that we are often too often slow to hear, quick to speak, and quick to anger.  Becoming a better listener takes time and practice, so don’t plan on becoming better in one conversation.

The Bible tells us that good listening is an act of love.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote,

 “despises the brother and is only waiting for a chance to speak and thus get rid of the other person.” 

Poor listening rejects; good listening embraces.  Poor listening diminishes the other person, while good listening invites them to exist and to matter.

Good listening goes hand in hand with the mindset of Christ (Philippians 2:5).  It flows from a humble heart that counts others more significant than ourselves (Philippians 2:3).  It looks not only to its own interests but also the interests of others (Philippians 2:4).  It is patient and kind (1 Corinthians 13:4).

For business leaders and entrepreneurs, good listening skills are a must.  Good listening is learning.  Good listening is caring.  And good listening is teaching.

Business leaders must learn from the Bible and become better listeners.