Shut Up & Listen—You Might Just Learn Something!

Shut_UpWe’re impatient. We don’t have many thoughtful conversations anymore. We communicate in sound bites of 140 characters or less. We respond to headlines or buzzwords.

This challenges our ability to listen. Or to even have the opportunity to listen. Think about your day. It’s becoming exceedingly difficult to listen, to observe and understand the subtleties of people, things, or places. I suspect we’re losing our ability to listen altogether.

This is especially true for people of my generation and younger—the Twitter generation. In a recent interview with Francesca Zambello, published in the New York Times, she identifies the importance of listening to others to spark creativity, collaboration, and to make better decisions.

“When you’re in your 20s and have that leadership gene, the bad thing is that you don’t know when to shut up. You think you know all the answers, but you don’t. What you learn later is when to just listen to everybody else…. Creativity cannot explode if you do not have the ability to step back, take in what everybody else says and then fuse it with your own ideas,” she says. “Theater is one of the most collaborative art forms, and you have to be able to absorb everything that people tell you. That’s not any different from really good businesses. When I go into meetings with successful business people, I’m always amazed at how much they’re able to just sit there and absorb things and then make a really good decision.”

Listening is one of the best ways to access understanding. Effective listening helps us understand others and helps others to understand you. Listening challenges us to think differently, to innovate, to create. And as Ms. Zambello pointed out, it helps you recognize and use the diverse knowledge, wisdom, and passion of the people around us to produce better outcomes.

So how does one improve their ability to listen? Julian Treasure believes it starts with improving your own conscious listening.  Watch and listen as Julian shares his five simple exercises to improve your own conscious listening:

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