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How to Win

The Power of Listening

The other day I read a Twitter profile that went like this:

“Strong opinions. Good listener.”

It made me think. Is such a thing possible?

How about you? Do you think those two qualities can exist side by side in a person? Can you really care, at the same time, about what YOU think and what OTHERS think?

Looking at the political gridlock in Washington, DC, for example, you get the feeling that things might be a bit better if there were more listening and fewer opinions.

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood,”said listening expert Dr. Ralph Nichols. “The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”

“Silence is a source of great strength,” said Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu.

When it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, you could scarcely go wrong by aiming to be a better listener.

There’s a wonderful story about a CEO who used a simple technique to interview potential salesmen. He would have dinner with them. If they put salt on their food without tasting it, the CEO would immediately disqualify them. In his eyes, adding salt without tasting the food was a way of acting without getting all the facts. And in his mind, salesmen should always listen to get all the facts.

“(Russian revolutionary Vladimir) Lenin could listen so intently that he exhausted the speaker,” said British political theorist Isaiah Berlin.

“Listen or thy tongue will keep thee deaf,” goes a Native American proverb.

When it comes to coaching, you need listening on both sides. The players must listen, but so does the coach. A good guideline is for coaches to listen as intently as they want their players to. You can motivate by simply paying attention to what others say.

“The biggest compliment was when someone asked what I thought and then attended to my answer,” said American philosopher Henry David Thoreau.

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

So maybe the most productive job is to listen!

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TotalGamePlan offers Winner’s Workshops for schools, sports teams and businesses. The emphasis is on motivation, skill-building and teamwork. To bring a Winner’s Workshop to your group, just email coachtully@totalgameplan.com or call (973) 800-5836.


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