The Art Of Speaking And Listening

I got the following quote today and wanted to share:

Most of us were born
hearing well, but all of us must learn to listen well. Listening is a
skill, an art that is in need of being cultivated.

Dr. Ralph Nichols,
considered by many to be an authority on the subject, believes that we think
four, perhaps five, times faster than we talk. This means that if a speaker
utters one hundred twenty words a minute, the audience thinks at about five
hundred words a minute. That difference offers a strong temptation to listeners
to take mental excursions . . . to think about last night's bridge game or
tomorrow's sales report or the need to get that engine tune-up before next
weekend's trip to the mountains . . . then phase back into the speaker's

Research at the
University of Minnesota reveals that in listening to a ten-minute talk, hearers
operate at only a twenty-eight percent efficiency. And the longer the talk, the
less we understand, the less we track with our ears what somebody's mouth is

        –Chuck Swindoll

I often wonder if communicators (including myself) are cognizant of where the hearers are.  In my own journey to becoming a great communicator I have learned that the speaking and the listening are both essential in connecting with others-in career and personal life.

By the way, if you want to test your speaking and listening skills, go spend some time with children and test your results.

The 90/10 Leadership Development Principle-Again

I wrote the following post some time ago, but I think it bears re-posting today:

So many principles, so little time:).  Seriously, I want to tackle
the 90/10 principle (10% is the unexpected good or bad, 90% is what you
choose) in relation to our life and career.

For many years I was told by mentors and colleagues that the 90/10
rule was important.  In the early years, I didn't want to have the
responsibility for 90% of my life.  It seemed so permanent to face the
consequences of my choices.  And I certainly didn't like the idea of
the 10%.  Who wants to be at the mercy of the unexpected? 

It was about 10 years ago that I really became conscious of the
principle.  So much so that it now is a part of my culture.  I use the
term conscious because unconscious living leads to incongruent values
(I say exercise is important, but I never do it) or plain old
hypocrisy.  No judgment here, but you need to be awake.

Here's why you need to embrace the 90/10 rule:

  • You must embrace, because the 90/10 rule embraces you.  Like it or not.
  • When you embrace, your leadership quality goes way up.  All of sudden you think before you act.
  • You must tame the beast inside.  Call it misplaced ambition,
    preoccupation with the opinions of others or greed.  When you realize
    that 90% of life is what you choose, you'll think twice about walking
    all over your co-workers.
  • You'll begin to think about your foundation.  Is it sand or stone?  When the unexpected comes what will keep you anchored?
  • Embracing the rule will simplify things.  It won't make life easy,
    but it will make you decide what's most important in career and life.
  • You'll make the breakthrough to realizing that no one/organization
    can make you happy.  Happiness is a choice (there's that 90% again) and
    only you can make this one.
  • You'll stop being afraid of your destiny and get on with the mission.
  • The Oscar for best motion picture should be your life.

Don't awaken to an accidental career or life.

When Love Comes Out Of You

The above clip is from one of my all time favorite musical artists, Pat Metheny.  As I watched the clip I couldn't help but wonder if Metheny knew what was coming out of him?  On that night, was he pouring out something larger than himself?  In the arts we tend to presume this to be true.

As the melody wrapped around me I thought this process cannot be confined to just music, or the arts for that matter.  But isn't it true for all that we do?

Yes, but it is a choice.  It's a choice of love.

I am convinced that the only way the moment is cemented into our memory and being is when we pour out love.  Here are some points on how it can make a difference:

  • When you pour out love to those close to you, you create legacy-a great one.  My father poured so much love into me that I couldn't discover how much until after he passed.  My father and I were playing our parts through the years and it was as if it prepared me for the scene I'm in now.  And as much as that breaks my heart, it is building something in me.  
  • When you throw away your career, you open up a blocked portion (a large one) of your heart.  It's the best open heart surgery on earth.  An unblocked heart allows love to flow into your work and calling.
  • When you open yourself up to the author of love, you begin to see all people through the lens of love.  It changes everything, and I mean everything.
  • When you love, you become someone to count on.  Someone there with an umbrella on a cold rainy day.  So many people are looking for that umbrella. 
  • When you love, even those who hate you will become worthy of your prayers and help.  It's crazy, but it opens up forgiveness and second chances.  We've all needed to be forgiven and given a second chance.

So where are you pouring out love today?

The Lens Of Style Points

You may be involved in leadership team development or a new staff member just trying to navigate the "matrix" that sometimes is career.  Regardless of what your role is, you need to be very careful with "style points."  In this post I'll confine that to the following definition:

    "Evaluating an individual's approach and/or presentation in order to judge that person's worth."

My friend Marc told me once that leaders need to develop a strategy to bring clarity to their intention.  In other words, don't let your intention be run over by your "style."  I see this as important.  I'm a visionary thinker, so consequently, if I were in a meeting on budgets I could appear bored.  It's not that I see no importance in the "numbers," I just have a limited attention span for that kind of information.  Over the years I've implemented specific strategies to combat my bored demeanor.  Coffee would be a great example here.

So what do you do with the idea of judging people based on their style?

Even if I master my delivery and presentation, I can't always walk away clean.  I can continue to work on getting better, but as many thought leaders know, your weaknesses can only move up a notch or two when it comes to growth.

Our best opportunity is in not weighting our decision too heavily on style.  This is especially important in team (a group of peope who see the goal as more important than their own individual agendas) environments and loving relationships at home.  If you're not careful, you can begin to see people through a very critical lens.  I know that Malcolm Gladwell and others embrace an idea that the first impression is everything.  It has a place, but to use it as the sole criteria would be naive.  Besides, if first impressions were truly everything, I never would have married my wife.  She laughed at me when I introduced myself to her over twenty years ago.

Just remember that the shy team member or over-confident sales rep. may have an intention worth looking for beyond the veneer.