Big Ears … Small Mouth

18 Nov

I first heard the phrase “Big Ears … Small Mouth” from a client. He used it to describe his approach to learning about his new job. He thought it was important to spend more time listening to others and learning their perspectives than to offer his opinions about a new organization he knew little about.

This really resonated with me and it sent me on a little exploratory mission. How did I feel when I was listened to and when I wasn’t???

Amazingly, it didn’t take long for both situations to happen.

big_earsFirst the positive experience. I had lunch with a colleague who was an amazing facilitator and a person whom I respect greatly. We were talking about the self reflection I did after some recent mediations. As I was recounting my story, I took a look across the table and he was listening so intently, that it felt like he was absorbing every word. And he didn’t say anything … even after I was finished. I think it was in case I wanted to add a post script.

And then, after a few moments, he responded by reflecting on what I had told him and it was clear that he had paid great attention to not only what I said, but also how I felt about what I said. It was a pretty terrific feeling.

Now for a completely different experience … a meeting with someone who always has to add something to what I am saying. And often before I have even uttered the last word in my sentence. It makes we wonder when the person starts thinking about what to say. So, I decided to observe a little more and I noticed little signs, like leaning forward and fidgeting, that made me think it was pretty soon after I started talking.

It sure was easy to figure out which person had the monster ears and the little mouth … and I enjoyed being with more. A great lesson for me too … as I work to listen better myself.



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