When It’s Time to Learn, Shut Up, and Listen

Posted by Todd Smith

When people take their valuable time to give us instruction or free words of advice, we should focus 100% of that time on listening and absorbing the information rather than talking. If we don’t interrupt or feel the need to interject, we’ll learn more, gain respect, and improve the odds of receiving advice in the future.

Throughout my career, I have had countless people ask for a small block of time to pick my brain. In literally 90% of these conversations, they spend more time talking than listening. I would often get off the phone thinking “There’s another person who can’t shut up and listen to advice without having to say something.”

In fact, it’s rare to find people who really understand how to take advantage of our time together. Yesterday, I had a telephone conversation with a man I had never met. By the time we got off the phone, I found myself beginning to admire a guy I had never talked to before. Why? Because he listened intently and asked good questions. Sounds so simple.

Not really. The same day I had a conversation with Darren Hardy, the publisher of Success Magazine. Darren took his valuable time to give me some advice about a decision I needed to make. And what did I find myself doing? Talking. Interjecting. I became one of those people who drive me crazy.

I got off the phone totally disappointed in myself. Why did I feel the need to interject and comment? Was it ego? Was it my inability to keep my mouth shut? Was it that I felt I needed to agree by sharing a related story? What was it?

While I still don’t know the answer, I made the commitment that from this day forward I am going to shut up and listen. When people take their valuable time to give me advice and help me grow, I am not going to say boo until such time as there has been a two-second pause. Not boo.

How about you? Do you think you can do it? Will you join me in making the same commitment? If you accept my challenge, then say “I do” right now.

Eighty-five percent of our learning comes from listening, and you can’t listen when you are talking.

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About the Author:

Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 43 years and founder of Little Things Matter. This blog contains over 200 of his timeless life lessons.

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