Quote of the Week – We’ve all heard the criticism, “He talks too much.” When is the last time you heard someone criticized for listening too much? Norm Augustine
Mr. Augustine had a very successful career in both the private sector and the public sector. He is so well-known for his “sayings” that he published a book called Augustine’s Laws that features them!
Mr. Augustine has posed an interesting question about listening versus talking. I certainly know a few people who talk too much! And I admit that I also have to be careful at times not to be seen as a member of that club myself!
Some people speak up a lot, yet have a way of being concise and on-point. They are also often very good listeners. What matters is not necessarily the number of times that a person speaks up, but how much “airtime” they take in meetings, on phone calls, etc.
Some people even talk too little! This is especially true when their silence implies consent or approval. History books provide us with plenty of examples of times when too few people spoke up against prejudice, injustice, and fear-mongering.
Listening is key to understanding how other people feel. Listening also helps us understand what others believe and what they take into account when making a decision. Certainly, most of us like it when others listen to us! However, research shows that the average person listens at approximately 25% efficiency. It also shows that most people believe that listening effectively is a very important skill, but most people don’t feel it is important to improve their own listening skills.
Try This Quick Exercise
Take out a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of the page. Label the left-hand column “People Who Talk Too Much.” Now, label the right-hand column, “People Who Are Good Listeners.” Then write down the names of at least five people who fit into each category. They can be people you know personally (e.g., family members, neighbors, work colleagues, etc.) or people who are public figures (e.g., entertainers, athletes, politicians, etc.).
Questions for Reflection
- Which one of your two columns was easier to complete?
- Are any people in both columns?
- How does “talking too much” hurt the people in your left-hand column?
- How does “being a good listener” help the people in your right-hand column?
- Ask a few friends, family members and/or colleagues to tell you if you talk too much, are a good listener – or both! What did you learn about yourself?