1. Grow PROPORTIONATE Ears. Did you listen twice as much as you talked? Here’s a good test of that: If your conversation partner finishes her lunch before you, you didn’t listen enough.
2. Grow RECENT Ears. When was the last time someone complimented your listening skills? Yesterday? Last week? Last month? 1997? Whatever your answer is, it was too long ago.
3. Grow HONEST Ears. Would YOU be compelled to listen to you? Ouch. Something to honestly think about. Especially if your answer isn’t an immediate YES. Kind of makes you wonder what people are REALLY doing while you’re speaking.
4. Grow ZEN Ears. When was the last time you listened, all the way through, to an idea that made you uncomfortable? This is not easy. This requires patience, open-mindedness, non-judgment and self-security.
5. Grow SMARTER Ears. Are you known as (1) Someone who really LISTENS, or (2) The guy who never shuts up? For your sake, I hope it’s #1. Because there is WAY too many #2’s out there. And most of them are your competitors.
6. Grow HELPFUL Ears. What can you say that will make a difference? Because if it’s just some inane cliché, some pointless story that feeds your ego or some clever little joke that adds ZERO value to the conversation, they don’t want to heart it.
7. Grow PATIENT Ears. How many seconds do you pause before speaking? ESL teaches its students to wait three seconds. THREE SECONDS. That’s one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand. Man. No wonder the foreign exchange students did so well in school!
8. Grow INTERDEVELOPMENTAL Ears. How well do you listen to yourself? You won’t be able to hear a damn thing anyone says if you can’t (first) listen to yourself. You’re the most important person in the world. It makes sense to tune in.
9. Grow PREPARED Ears. How much time do you spend preparing to listen? Think about it. We stay up all night rehearing and preparing for ‘the big presentation.’ But nobody takes the time to prepare himself to listen. Huh. Interesting.
10. Grow PROVING Ears. How do you demonstrate that you’ve listened? Through notes. Through comments. Through questions. Through summaries. Through remembering something minute that the person said six months later.
11. Grow SILENT Ears. Are you listening to the silences beneath people’s words? That will tell you more about the person than their words ever will. Almost like a symphony. Without the rests, the notes would be worthless.
12. Grow MINDFUL Ears. Are you listening or waiting to talk? Stop rehearsing. Stop thinking about what you’re going to say next. Stay in the present moment and attend to the needs of your speaker.
13. Grow EMPATHIC Ears. Are you listening or trying to fix? People don’t want to be fixed. They want to be heard. They want you to respond to their present experience and personal truth.
14. Grow HUMBLER Ears. Are you aware of your personal biases that get in the way of listening effectively? Really? None? You don’t have ANY? In that case, make arrogance #1 on your list 🙂