One of the most important things you can do in life is listen.
The reasons are many, but an important one is – listening equals leverage.
Now, some people may be saying to themselves – ‘Well that sounds manipulative.’
Take a moment and think about this from a physics point of view. I know, I know, some of you are already thinking, “No! I hated physics in high school or college.”
I hear you, but just stay with me for a short moment for the explanation. Leverage is simply some mechanism by which to move something else. For example, if you need to get a tight lug nut off your wheel when you have a flat tire, you go get a “cheater” bar that is longer in length. This cheater bar creates leverage because it’s longer in length and will help to give you extra torque/strength needed to move the tighter lug nut.
Remember these kinds of pictures of a person moving a rock? This is leverage.
Listening is simply a tool of leverage to help us move a conversation or an issue with more ease.
Here’s an example: I recently had a conversation with a woman who wanted to volunteer for an organization I’m a Director for. Some of the first questions I asked her were : Why are you considering volunteering and what do you think you’d like to achieve while you’re here? Her primary answer was to expand her network. Fair enough.
The conversation continued on for a while about different tasks she might consider and how we operate as a team. At the end, it came down to her choosing between 2 different tracks. She stated that she was leaning toward only the one track. I listened a little more and then when I had the next opportunity, I referred back to her original answers she had given regarding her objectives and goals. I told her if she truly wanted to capitalize on expanding her network that she should consider the other opportunity because she would be able to meet a lot more people nationally. By the end of the conversation she was interested and agreed to help in both tracks.
The reason this is such a beautiful example, in regards to leverage, is because it was used by myself and by our volunteer candidate. I used leverage by restating her own objectives, later in the conversation, to aide in getting assistance with a track I needed help with. She masterfully used leverage by listening to both myself and my colleague tell her what the options were; heard the opportunity to meet her all her goals, and then jumped on it. Smart lady!
So whether you’re in a situation at work or at home, as a leader, executive, team member, spouse, or parent, listening equals leverage. It helps to move a conversation so that both parties can get something they want. Without listening there will be missed opportunities.