“No one speaks twice until everyone’s been once around.”
I’d hopped in the car to run to the grocery store when an NPR interview crackled on the radio. The conversation was well in progress as the reporter intently quizzed a Supreme Court Justice on how the court managed its differing views.
The justice explained how the nine members of the Court maintained respectful and friendly relationships even with their widely differing views. We listen to one another. No one raises their voice. And no one speaks twice until we’ve been once around the room.
He went on to explain that compromise is not just splitting the difference between the two points. It’s truly listening and understanding the other’s viewpoint and then incorporating that perspective into decisions.
Less than two days later, I heard this Bible verse recited by one of our pastors:
Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. (James 1 – The Message translation)
Lead with your ears.
Don’t speak again until everyone has been heard.
Can you imagine what would happen if that radical notion took hold?
2016 would have looked a lot different.
Facebook and Twitter would look a lot different.
Politics, marketing, civil unrest, the dinner table, our churches, the break room, would all look, and SOUND, totally different.
When I was interviewing women leaders for my book, Learning to Lead, one executive shared that active listening was the best advice she could give to emerging leaders. She encouraged everyone to create space for team members to be individually heard, and not shot down. Respecting other’s opinions, even if the organization didn’t ultimately agree, would develop a respectful environment and loyalty to the leader.
If everyone from a Supreme Court Justice to the Bible encourages listening as the most effective, then why are we all shouting instead?
Does it make us feel important? Heard? Understood? Victorious?
I honestly don’t know.
I know I have done it a million times before though. As someone is speaking, I’ve been thinking about a response in my head instead of singularly focusing on their words and perspective.
Let’s all try this for 2017: from social media to carpool and from the board room to the bedroom, let’s listen. Stop interrupting. Stop multi-tasking. Lead with your ears. Make eye contact. Let the person, or room know, the speaker is being heard.
What if we got crazy about this? What if we put our phones down and closed our computers when we went to a conference and actually heard what the speaker was saying? What if we listened to our children and our preachers and our friends with singular attention?
Would we hear those quiet and distant voices whispering for help? If our mouth is shut, it might be easier to hear them. We could act instead of just talk about what to do.
Listen. Lead with our ears. Watch crazy changes unfold.