Leading Thoughts

“There's a big difference between showing interest and really taking interest.”
— Michael P. Nichols
The Lost Art of Listening

“Listening looks easy, but it's not simple. Every head is a world.”
— Cuban Proverb

“Man's inability to communicate is a result of his failure to listen effectively.”
— Carl Rogers

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
— Winston Churchill

“If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.”
— Turkish Proverb

“To listen fully means to pay close attention to what is being said beneath the words. You listen not only to the 'music,' but to the essence of the person speaking. You listen not only for what someone knows, but for what he or she is. Ears operate at the speed of sound, which is far slower than the speed of light the eyes take in. Generative listening is the art of developing deeper silences in yourself, so you can slow our mind’s hearing to your ears’ natural speed, and hear beneath the words to their meaning.”
— Peter Senge

“Big egos have little ears.”
— Robert Schuller

“It is the province of knowledge to speak And it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.”
— Oliver Wendell Holmes

“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.”
— Henry David Thoreau

“Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much.”
— Robert Greenleaf

“To be listened to is, generally speaking, a nearly unique experience for most people. It is enormously stimulating. It is small wonder that people who have been demanding all their lives to be heard so often fall speechless when confronted with one who gravely agrees to lend an ear. Man clamors for the freedom to express himself and for knowing that he counts. But once offered these conditions, he becomes frightened.”
— Robert C. Murphy

“A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he gets to know something.”
— Wilson Mizner

“Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery.”
— Dr Joyce Brothers

“Wisdom is the reward for a lifetime of listening ... when you'd have preferred to talk.”
— D.J. Kaufman

“The best time to hold your tongue is the time you feel you must say something or bust.”
— Josh Billings

“An essential part of true listening is the discipline of bracketing, the temporary giving up or setting aside of one's own prejudices, frames of reference and desires so as to experience as far as possible the speaker's world from the inside, step in inside his or her shoes. This unification of speaker and listener is actually and extension and enlargement of ourselves, and new knowledge is always gained from this. Moreover, since true listening involves bracketing, a setting aside of the self, it also temporarily involves a total acceptance of the other. Sensing this acceptance, the speaker will fell less and less vulnerable and more and more inclined to open up the inner recesses of his or her mind to the listener. As this happens, speaker and listener begin to appreciate each other more and more, and the duet dance of love is begun again.”
— M. Scott Peck, MD

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”
— Karl Menninger

“There are people who, instead of listening to what is being said to them, are already listening to what they are going to say themselves.”
— Albert Guinon

“No man ever listened himself out of a job.”
— Calvin Coolidge

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”
— Ernest Hemingway

“To listen closely and reply well is the highest perfection we are able to attain in the art of conversation.”
— Francois de La Rochefoucauld

“Be a good listener. Your ears will never get you in trouble.”
— Frank Tyger

“I only wish I could find an institute that teaches people how to listen. Business people need to listen at least as much as they need to talk. Too many people fail to realize that real communication goes in both directions.”
— Lee Iacocca
Former CEO Chrysler Corporation

“I think the one lesson I have learned is that there is no substitute for paying attention.”
— Diane Sawyer
ABC Television Anchor

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
— Stephen R. Covey
7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“To say that a person feels listened to means a lot more than just their ideas get heard. It's a sign of respect. It makes people feel valued.”
— Deborah Tannen Author and Professor of Linguistics Georgetown University

“June Rokoff, Senior VP for Software Development at Lotus credits her success in turning around the company's position in the software industry to building a team that listens: she made listening the culture of her team.”
— Glen Rifkin
New York Times

“The best salespeople are great listeners—that's how you find out what the buyer wants.”
— Larry Wilson and Spencer Johnson

“Just being available and attentive is a great way to use listening as a management tool. Some employees will come in, talk for twenty minutes, and leave having solved their problems entirely by themselves.”
— Nicholas V. Luppa

“I would say that listening to the other person's emotions may be the most important thing I've learned in twenty years of business.”
— Heath Herber
Herber Company

“It's okay to admit what you don't know. It's okay to ask for help. And it's more than okay to listen to the people you lead--in fact it's essential.”
— Mary Barra, CEO General Motors

“Of all the skills of leadership, listening is the most valuable—and one of the least understood. Most captains of industry listen only sometimes, and they remain ordinary leaders. But a few, the great ones, never stop listening. That's how they get word before anyone else of unseen problems and opportunities.”
— Peter Nulty
National Business Hall of Fame Fortune Magazine

“Without credible communication, and a lot of it, the hearts and minds of others are never captured.”
— John P. Kotter

“A good listener tries to understand what the other person is saying. In the end he may disagree sharply, but because he disagrees, he wants to know exactly what it is he is disagreeing with.”
— Kenneth A. Wells

“We listened to what our customers wanted and acted on what they said. Good things happen when you pay attention.”
— John F Smith
Former CEO and President General Motors

“Defense mechanisms are always anti-learning.”
— Chris Argyris

“The saddest part about being human is not paying attention. Presence is the gift of life.”
— Stephen Levine

“The way to stay fresh is you never stop traveling, you never stop listening. You never stop asking people what they think.”
— Rene McPherson
Former Chairman, Dana

“A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he knows something.”
— Wilson Mizner

Who speaks, sows; Who listens, reaps.
— Argentine Proverb

“I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I'm going to learn, I must do it by listening.”
— Larry King

“We do not grow by knowing all of the answers, but rather by living with the questions.”
— Max De Pree

We should never pretend to know what we don't know, we should not feel ashamed to ask and learn from people below, and we should listen carefully to the views of the cadres at the lowest levels. Be a pupil before you become a teacher; learn from the cadres at the lower levels before you issue orders.”
— MaoTse-tung

“You learn when you listen. You earn when you listen—not just money, but respect.”
— Harvey Mackay

“To learn through listening, practice it naively and actively. Naively means that you listen openly, ready to learn something, as opposed to listening defensively, ready to rebut. Listening actively means you acknowledge what you heard and act accordingly.”
— Betsy Sanders
Former Senior Vice President & General Manager Nordstrom

“The key to success is to get out into the store and listen to what the associates have to say. It's terribly important for everyone to get involved. Our best ideas come from clerks and stockboys.”
— Sam Walton

“Many 'active listening' seminars are, in actuality, little more than a shallow theatrical exercise in appearing like you're paying attention to another person. The requirements: Lean forward, make eye contact, nod, grunt, or murmur to demonstrate you're awake and paying attention, and paraphrase something back every 30 seconds or so. As one executive I know wryly observed, many inhabitants of the local zoo could be trained to go through these motions, minus the paraphrasing.”
— Robert K. Cooper
Executive EQ


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