“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak;
courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
— Winston Churchill
This is the Chinese symbol for “To Listen”. It is wonderful in how it pulls together several elements required to fully listen to another person. When one of the elements is not present, true listening is incomplete. It is intuitive. We know this. Yet, we forget and fail to listen every day of our lives.
For leadership to thrive we need to both listen and encourage others to listen. It is why I refer to dialogue often in my writing. I list the elements below that make up the Chinese symbol for “To Listen“. Something for us to ponder for our success as leaders. I question if anything is more important.
Heart = Empathy
Leaders need empathy. I do not know how a leader with little empathy can sustain success. Empathy is the means to reach out and touch the heart of the person we are listening to and shorten the distance between us.
Undivided Attention = Quiet the mind’s noise
Be present. There is no past or future. Here and now, you are my focus. I am listening to you and not waiting to speak myself.
Ear = You have two of them
Focus on hearing the speaker. There is voice and inflection and the tone of the voice. It changes as we speak. Do I hear the full message? We can pick up so much information as we hear someone speak to us.
Eyes = Window to the soul
Our eyes are amazing. We see so much, but focus on so little. Maybe with enough focus we can get a glimpse into the soul of the person we are listening to and for once understand.
“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”
— Ralph Nichols