Listen“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.”

~~ Jimi Hendrix

I don’t know about you, but I’m both befuddled and frustrated by what we are witnessing in our presidential primaries. One would have to be living under a rock if my statement is falling on deaf ears. It is impossible to turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper without being inundated with a deluge of diatribe reflecting on the contentious rivalry taking place.

What I feel is missing in all of this crazy chaos is the ability to listen to gain the wisdom required. Are the candidates really listening to us, the voters, and are they listening to each other? Are we, the voters, really listening to the candidates to truly understand what each can do to be our worthy leader? This is not meant to be a political opinion, but rather to give you cause to ponder and to relate this very public display of rhetoric to your personal life.

Great leaders are great listeners. They recognize knowledge and wisdom are not gained by talking, but rather by listening. ALL great leaders are adept at reading between the lines. They have the uncanny ability to understand what is not said, witnessed, or heard.

Since I started by mentioning presidents, it brings to mind President Calvin Coolidge who was known as “Silent Cal”. The story goes that someone said to him, “I made a bet today that I could get more than three words out of you.” He replied, “You lose.” In his day, he was considered a very effective president with the reputation of being a quiet man. He would later write, “The words of a President have an enormous weight and ought not to be used indiscriminately.” He once said to Ethel Barrymore, “I think the American people want a solemn ass as a President, and I think I will go along with them.”

Now for my few quick tips on how to be a good listener…

• It’s not about you – Be interested, not interesting.
• Do not be too busy to listen – Be patient and be attentive.
• Listen for opportunity – Look for the story behind the message and the opportunity beyond the issue.
• Let listening be your calling card – Be recognized for your ability to listen to earn the respect of others.
• Recognize the contributions of others – Thank people for their time and input.

NyleI’ll end with my personal tribute of a man I’ve only come to know on TV. His name is Nyle DeMarco. Many of you may be wondering who the heck he is. I’m a “Dancing with the Stars” buff and Nyle was the grand prize winner of the mirror ball this season. He is an actor and a model. What makes him exceptional is that he is also deaf, born into a deaf family with his parents, grandparents, and siblings all being deaf. How can a totally deaf person learn to dance to perfection when he can’t hear the music? He listens to the music in other ways – through observation and emotional bonding. It is truly amazing to watch and to comprehend the possibility. Imagine what we might accomplish if we focused on the use of our other senses to better understand and be able to react more meaningfully. Prepare to be moved by his contemporary dance to Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence.