An Important First Step – Character Creates Opportunity®: September 6, 2018

In today’s fast pace world, we seem to give great credit to those who can deliver quick powerful points of view on major issues at the dinner table, the workplace, and in the community. We are continuously fed well-articulated sound bites on complex issues via news-feeds and social media posts that continue to send us signals that we all need to prioritize stating our point of view at the expense of any other form of communication.

With the current bombardment of noise and volume, we are at serious risk of losing the most important first step in building and maintaining healthy relationships, the ability to be an active listener to those we care about most.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, being disciplined and consistent with our effort to focus on listening will remain an important first step as we look to be our best for those we care about most at home, work, and in our community.

Even without our sound-bite focused and loud world, we all seem to either be wired to or have been conditioned to share our point of view and experience, not necessarily to win an argument or debate, but also to potentially help someone’s personal growth and development. However, the reality is that without taking the important first step of listening to the other person, our effectiveness in sharing our experience and point of view will be severely limited.

Instead of prioritizing our “brilliant” responses or sharing our “one-of-a-kind” experiences, we should work hard to let listening to the other person be the full focus of our efforts. Placing a priority on active listening as an important first step will be the gateway to healthy relationships with those we care about most.

Here are a few encouraging reminders to focus our energy on the important first step of listening:

  1. Listening is a simple and powerful way to demonstrate to someone that they matter and meets the basic universal need of all of us to be understood and accepted for who we are today.
  2. Listening comes before influence. Until those closest to us know that we care enough about them by our willingness to listen, they will rarely “hear” what we have to say. If we want to have influence, listening is an important first step.
  3. Listening first helps others feel safe to talk, helps validate their emotions, creates the gateway for a true conversation to begin, and for at least a moment, ends the “costume party” we all typically live in.
  4. Listening opens our hearts and minds to understand what lies beneath someone’s behavior. We only see the world as we are, not as it really is. Listening creates insight into the real world of others and helps to stifle quick judgments by the voices inside our head.

Being an active listener takes a great deal of effort as we have a strong tendency to want to respond and talk about our own point of view. As we focus on listening as an important first step, we will build and strengthen our character, and Character Creates Opportunity to have a positive, enduring impact on those we care about most.

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