Just listen


You’re too quiet, people often tell me. It’s usually at an inappropriate time, in a group setting, inadvertently designed for maximum embarrassment.

I’m no longer embarrassed but grateful.

I’m not too quiet. You’re too talkative.

Shut up and listen, please.

soundwave.jpgIt’s a key to success, believe it or not. So goes the lesson from a seminar last week on influencing others, whether they be colleagues, bosses, customers, clients or subordinates.

Mike asked me to sum it up in 10 seconds. And I did.

Listening well is the key. You can’t ask the right questions, or connect, or build teams if you don’t listen.


I am often quiet in groups, whether in meetings or social gatherings. Observers read far too much into that passive display: shy, judgmental, contemplative, bored, aloof, scared, disengaged, disinterested.

I might actually be lost in thought, analytical, observant, completely engaged and focused.

I’m usually listening. I’m thinking about what you’re saying while trying to avoid formulating an answer (it distracts me from the conversation).

If I say something, it’s usually a question. I need to know more. I want to hear you continue. I want to engage you. I don’t want to reveal my thoughts just yet.

If I say something else, I want to make it count. I’d rather say nothing or one profound thing than chatter away.

Plus, listening is sexy, or so I’ve been told. If someone really listened to me, I think I’d find it to be a turn-on.

It’s the ultimate compliment. I pay attention because you’re interesting or funny. I ignore you if you’re not.

Don’t look at me. Just listen.


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