Volume 4, Issue 1

January 2015

Blue Ridge Conference

Save the Date:

October 14 - 16, 2015

Blue Ridge Conference on Leadership

Black Mountain, NC

Enjoy the Present – Listen

The holidays are over, but there's still one more gift – it's called the present.

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; that's why it is called the present."

There seems to be much debate about the true author of this quote (many attribute it to Eleanor Roosevelt), but you have to admit it has a great message particularly in the age of smart phones, email, and social media. It seems that everywhere you look everyone is staring at a phone or a tablet, even on the highways, which has become a safety epidemic. But this blog isn't about the dangers of texting while driving (although if you do this, please stop!); it's about enjoying the present by focusing on having better live, in-person conversations with other people.

A good conversation requires good listening, which has become a rarity. According to Daniel Goleman, "Poor listening is the common cold of leadership." Imagine how the world could change if we all just listened better. Ok, it seems daunting to try to change the world so imagine how YOUR world (work, family, friends, marriage, etc.) could change if you listened better. I challenge everyone reading this to focus on listening for the next week and then reflect on whether or not it made a difference.


Here are a few tips to improve listening in live, in-person conversations with other people:

Put away or turn off the distractions – Everyone is stretched thin these days and we're all trying to multi-task but it is impossible to type, skype, text, tweet or whatever while you are trying to listen to someone else. Put away the phone, close the laptop, and just focus on listening to the person talking or presenting. Have you ever been in a meeting where everyone had their laptop open while someone was presenting or during a discussion? Make it a ground rule during all your meetings for everyone to shut their laptops and put their phone on the table face down during presentations and group discussions.

Stop "re-loading" – To really listen, you have to stop thinking of your response while the other person is talking. I call this "re-loading." Stop re-loading and just listen.

Repeat what the person said – This is an old tip, but worth repeating. Start your reply with "What I heard you say was…" Or, ask a question to clarify or hear more. This lets the person know you're listening, which they'll appreciate, and in turn be more likely to listen to you.

Ask, "What do you think?" and listen – Tom Peters has a great video online about the 4 Most Important Words for engaging your workforce. The words are simply, "What do you think?" Good doctors listen to their patients to find out everything they can. Ask this question and find out what people around you are thinking!

Practice, Practice, Practice – Like everything worth achieving, developing good leadership and listening takes practice, but after a while you'll become aware when you aren't listening and self-correct your behavior.

Try these tips during your challenge week of better listening and see how it works for you.

Happy New Year and Remember: Enjoy the Present.

-John Bruce

 The contributor to this month's newsletter is John Bruce. 
Board Member, Blue Ridge Conference on Leadership
Chief Operating Officer, Performex LLC 


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