Listen More And Talk Less

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I took a Writing for Business class many years ago during one of my first jobs out of college. The part about writing for business in the title wasn’t really the emphasis of the class in my opinion. My impression was that it was about self-editing your words and writing concisely using only the words needed, and no more. All of this wrapped up in proper sentence structure of course! The practice of self-editing my words in writing took hold. It’s been 20+ years since I took that class and I still tend to review anything I write several times for words I can remove and more concise ways of saying something. This applies mainly to writing where I want to share information, not anything poetic or creative, (or blog posts!) though I’m sure there are techniques for those genres as well!

Writing concisely is second nature, but I think I speak more than I write, mainly due to my career field in User Experience Design where I’m working with many people on complex technology and human interaction problems. With all that talking, I need to choose words carefully so I can get complex ideas across in a simple way that makes it easier for others to understand my idea. And then LISTEN to what others have to say.

Listening to others is more than hearing their words. It’s taken me practice to listen without thinking about my response before the other person is even finished talking. I’m not perfect at it, but I’ve learned to listen more than I speak at times so I can collect as much information as I can, and understand it before I start thinking about a reply or solution.

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One of the main ways I’ve learned to listen more is to take notes while someone is talking, even if I might not be a designated note taker for a meeting. It’s amazing how much sharper your ears become when you’re focused on capturing what’s said rather than listening to see how something might affect you so you can respond. You still get that information when taking notes, but you’re capturing info to respond to later rather than casually listening as you form a response on the spot.

The highest level of this form of listening more than you speak happens in personal relationships. Truly listening to the other person rather than thinking about your response will go a long way towards a healthy relationship with solid communication.

Listen more than you speak and see how far it can take you in work AND life!