Ken Donaldson: Listening and Effective Communication

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can
listen twice as much as we speak.

Question: What’s more important…
Listening or talking?

I know you’re probably going to give me the “right” answer (listening),
but let me ask you a more powerful question:
Which do you do more and how do you measure that?

What do most people do?  Most people talk….
and actually listen quite poorly.

Read the quote above…then here’s something else to think about:
You’ve got two ears and you’ve got two eyes.  And you’ve got one mouth.

The eyes and the ears are intake mechanisms.
They take in information.

The mouth is an output mechanism.

There’s a 4:1 ratio there.

Do you think there is a reason for that?

We weren’t born with four mouths and one ear and one eye…
we’d have a serious problem if that were the case!

We have two eyes, two ears, one mouth.

Think about it.

Doesn’t that in and of itself suggest that we are wired and
designed to listen more than talk?

Simple rule: Whoever listens most, wins.

Not “winning” like in a game, but winning by being a
champion communicator.

But why?

Why be a champion communicator?

Here’s one HUGE reason: It’ll make every one of your relationships better,
especially your primary relationship with your life partner.

Another HUGE reason: You’ll be much
more successful in your work,
regardless of what you do.

And another HUGE reason: You’ll
eliminate HUGE amounts of stress because….

Listening takes much less energy and actually puts you in
more control of the conversation.

Being an effective listener puts you in the driver’s seat.

You see, listening is not just about being quiet.

Oftentimes what I hear from people when I ask them about listening more
(especially couples who come to see me) is, “Okay, I’ll just shut up and sit here.”

That’s not exactly what I mean.

No, in fact, listening, quite frankly,
is much more active and challenging role than speaking.

Because when you’re listening, you’ve got to clear your mind so
you can be present for the other person.

What happens, and what most people do, is start thinking about their response.

They’re thinking about their rebuttal.

They’re thinking about their defense and their “answer.”

“How am I going to come back at this?”

As soon as the other person gets done talking, boom,
they come right back with their own “stuff.”

That’s not listening.  That’s called reaction, not listening.

And shutting down and not doing anything is not listening either.

Being able to understand, accept, clarify, validate and empathize
are all the primary ingredients to listening.

Let me repeat that: Understand, accept, clarify, validate and empathize.

Develop those five skills effectively and you’ll have the world in your hands.

To be an effective listener, I want you to imagine there is a bridge between
you and the other person.  You have to leave the “land of you”, cross the bridge,
and enter the “land of the other person”, leaving behind your agenda, your editorials,
your opinions, even – temporarily – your values.

I’m not saying to disregard all this, but for the sake of that conversation,
leave that all behind.

90% or more of the couples who come in to see me have communication
breakdowns because they don’t listen, understand, and/or accept their
partner’s views or experiences.

And by the way, acceptance does not mean agreement.

Two very different things.  Acceptance means, “I accept you for where you are.”

To offer validation, I’m saying, “I get your feelings.”

Furthermore, “I may not agree with your feelings and I may not have the same
feelings and I may do things totally different, but I get if I was in your shoes,
living the life that you’ve lived, having the thinking process that you have,
I would be having the same reaction.”

Read the preceding paragraph again…
that’s the summary of what you want to aim for.

That’s what you call the ability to validate and empathize.
Those are two very, very, very important valuable ingredients in
being an effective communicator.

Do you now see the value of listening?

And that’s JUST the tip of the iceberg!



P.S. There is a whole chapter of
communication strategies in Marry YourSelf First!

so improve your relationship intelligence today!

Read more from Ken Donaldson here

About Ken Donaldson

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