Seek first to understand

One of the most important skills I’ve learned in my 15 years as a consultant is the ability to listen. And one of the best ways to ensure that you are listening is simply this: when you’re in a conversation where you’re trying to learn something, let the other person finish their thought before you start talking.

I don’t know if it’s because everyone is in a rush these days, or that people are just trying to show how smart they are, but it’s amazing to me how often I see listeners interrupt a speaker in order to finish their thought or answer their question before the speaker has had a chance to finish. And of course, as often as not, the interrupter is answering a question that wasn’t going to be asked, thus wasting everyone’s time and requiring the original speaker to speak even more!

One of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “Seek first to understand.”  My advice to you when you’re speaking with someone: let the other speaker finish their thought before you respond. You might just learn something!


About Wes Trochlil

For over 30 years, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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