You know that song by Simon and Garfunkel – Sounds of Silence is one of my favorite songs from the 60s. The message I want to share with you today is the power of listening.
How often do we have conversations with somebody and we’re not listening?
You might say, “Oh I always listen to people, and I’m a good listener, and I’m polite.” But halfway through that conversation, do you start thinking about what you’re going to say in response to what they’ve just said? Are you trying to solve their problem as they’re telling you their problem? Are you trying to top their story when you should be just listening? You need to give 100 percent of your attention when somebody is talking.
The story about listening that I want to share with you is about Flight 1549. That’s the USAIR flight that Captain Sully flew into the Hudson River. It was about eight years ago. Captain Sully had just experienced total engine failure and he was speaking with the air traffic controllers and the different people that pilots have to speak to as they leave their airport and travel to their destination.
Listen to the transmission that day and you’ll discover the power of listening and maybe the power of not listening. Two examples – one, the pilot Captain Sully was talking to air traffic control and they were encouraging him to land in Teterboro Airport as he was announcing he was going into the Hudson. They weren’t listening. And then when Sully landed in the water or was about to land in the water, he heard his flight attendants saying “brace, brace for landing.” They were listening to the pilot’s directions and they were following the directions. Listening can be powerful in your personal life. It can be powerful in your corporate life too.
Here’s what I want you to do later today. When somebody starts a conversation with you, discipline yourself to listen that entire conversation. Don’t look at your phone. Don’t look at your laptop. Don’t think about what you’re going to say. Don’t think about how this conversation is frivolous and not important to you. Just focus in on what that person is saying and care about what they’re saying. Give it all of your energy until that person is finished speaking and only then do you respond.
Try that today. You might find it’s hard but it’s important.