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“Good listeners get what they deserve–better speakers.” Seth Godin
My mother always said… “your ears and mouth were built proportionally to how much you should listen or talk”. We should listen at least twice as much as we speak – one mouth – two ears.
I’m always open to constructive criticism. I have had many people take it upon themselves to ‘fix me’. However, I know who I am, what I do and what I stand for – and in so doing I do not take it personally when people ‘have a crack at me’. In fact debate is good.
A long time ago I learned that it is impossible to please everyone… Someone said to me that no matter how good I am as a speaker – if I have a room of 1000 people – there are 1% of attendees who will be unimpressed or simply not get my message. They may have had a fight with their spouse, or be worried about something else – and they are not present ie they are not really listening. Or the voice in their head has decided before I even open my mouth “what would she know”.
It is really easy to criticize others, act superior, but the only person you are really impacting is yourself. Even the worst speaker in the world has value to add – if for no other reason than we learn how we don’t want to be.
Lesson #1 – Everyone has gold – it is the job of the listener to uncover it.
I recently received this email:
“I’ve been reading your LinkedIn contributions (and the contributions of others) for a few weeks now.
Initially, I admit that I’ve been unimpressed with many of the articles I’ve been reading from people who are educated and successful–by all rights. I believe that many of us (particularly Americans) have chosen to ”react” to opinions and rhetoric rather than to think critically about the content that others say. It has bothered me that while we encourage others to succeed personally and professionally, I don’t see the same passion for genuinely enabling the success. We ask for people to demonstrate admirable traits that relate to generally acceptable values and beliefs–but we often don’t demonstrate them ourselves. And, it seems we rarely hold the one’s we value (accountable) to those standards.
I’ve written a handful of comments on your LinkedIn posts that were less than encouraging–trite, insensitive, and generally lackluster in communicating anything other than the fact that I don’t approve…
I wanted to apologize to you for doing that. I know that it’s okay to disagree–but that we should all encourage more than we scorn; and smile more than we ”beat our chests”. That includes me.
Naomi, I’m sorry that I my contributions to your posts were less than inspiring for you–and other readers.”
It took self-awareness to write this – and I thought others could learn from his words.
Lesson #2 it is a lonely place to always be right. Admitting you’re not perfect is a sign of maturity.
I love debate – it is healthy and fun, in fact conflict can create the challenge, which will lead to a better result. But before you challenge for the sake of it – have you listened for gold first and have you assessed how to be constructive without being ‘superior’? Holding on to a position of being right, without allowing other peoples’ opinions to be equally valued limits the opportunity to learn.
Have you ever tried to explain something to someone who says ‘I know’ alot? Doesn’t it stop you taking the time to share your view – and ultimately the ‘knower’ misses out. If you are the person who is always saying ‘I know’ (and maybe you do know a lot) but you will never find out what the other person did know if you cut them off and don’t ask open questions.
If you hear that little voice in your head so loudly that you can’t listen – perhaps it is time that you asked the little voice to quieten down for a moment so you can get the most from those around you.
Are you open to being a great listener? One of my favorite books on this subject is called “The lost art of listening

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