Silence Is Golden

"Ryan and I went out to lunch last week," Sara said, "and it was the most motivating time I've had in the five years I've worked for him. I felt he saw my work as valuable."

"What made it so motivating?" I wondered.

"He listened to what I wanted to talk about, never told me a better way I could've handled something, or changed the subject. I'm sure he had things to cover with me, but he just listened. And listened. And listened."

Ryan may have had no idea how much his listening meant to Sara. Listening sounds easy, but it's not. It's hard . . . hard not to give advice, or insert "That reminds me of . . ."

Listening is tricky. Sometimes Person A will attempt to show interest in what Person B is saying by relating his or her own similar experience. This often fails because Person A gets wrapped up in his or her own story and does most of the talking. As time passes, the two are likely to be interrupted by another person or a phone call, and the conversation never gets back to Person B.

I always wonder: did Person A realize what just happened? (Person B did.)

Back to Sara and Ryan. What made their lunch hour work so well?

– The setting: OUT to lunch (no interruptions)

– Ryan could have used the time for his own agenda, but resisted, keeping his mouth firmly shut.

Good listening is so rare that it makes a striking impression on us. And finding a good listener is like striking gold.

P.S. Every search I did to find "listening" images for this article turned up only headphones or ear buds. Says something, doesn't it?