Don’t be Fascinated by Your Own Words

I’ve written previously about Charles Handy, a friend of mine who’s a great management thinker from England. During one of his presentations he said, “Most of you are not going to remember much what I say in this session, but I will remember everything. The person who learns the most is the one who speaks the most.” I think that’s really a powerful thing. In the course that Margie and I teach for the Master of Science in Executive Leadership program at USD, sometimes there’s a complaint that they would love to hear more from us and our thinking. We try to integrate some of that, but the course is really about the students and their thinking and their learning to communicate their leadership point of view. It’s really so reinforcing to watch people where the real learning is happening. Because they are doing the talking. Very often we get fascinated by our own words; even as we try to teach our kids and other people things we think they ought to learn. If we realized that if we listen more than we speak, probably more learning would take place in the person we are trying to teach. Ha! That’s kind of a relearning for today—the person who speaks the most probably learns the most. The rest are going to forget what you have to say anyway. So let other people speak up. Facilitate their thinking through issues. Don’t always be the problem solver. Have a wonderful day. Life is a very special occasion when you let other people speak.

9 thoughts on “Don’t be Fascinated by Your Own Words

  1. When we listen to others by mirroring them and interpreting what we hear them saying, we help them hear themselves and even solve their own problems, and thats where the real learning comes in. Real learning is hearing the wisdom within ourselves.

  2. I know this is a little backwards for where you were going with this but it caused me to think of the importance of allowing a teenager to speak…to hear himself think out loud…to see what he/she really thinks. I must be quiet more often and ask more questions, more for the purpose of allowing him to think outloud. Thank you for the lightbulb moment!

  3. Its so important to listen to others. I know. I have alot to say. But I’m learning to listen to others (keeping my mouth shut)so I can actually here what they are saying. I also say ‘so what your saying is….’. This helps me to understand what they are saying. I can digest better and learn better. Works well in our mens Bible study where everyone has an opinion. Chris

  4. I have learned after 30 years of teaching, the less I say the more profound I am. Engagement by getting the participants talk out loud or each other works the best. Thanks for stating this so well!

  5. I thought the book Gung Ho! contained some excellent examples and guidelines on how to restore a slacking company to a prosperous and happy one. The tips and guidelines are things I never thought would have such an impact on the workers. The book’s simple terms and vocabulary make it quick and easy to follow allowing you to really absorb all the useful information and comprehend it fully.

  6. i think good leadership doesnt come from the leader’s own opinion but from the opinion of others. And from every ones point of view the leader can reach a deecision that benefits all and mostly the company. I think that, that right there is the most important work ethic allowing a company to acheive success.

  7. In the book Gung Ho! Peggy is ttaught to be a leader through various steps. Andy teaches her his ways which help her to run the company. Being a leader means you must be taught because you can’t teach yourself everything. Saying that people don’t retain what your friend says on stage doesn’t seem likely. I believe peopel retain the important information that help them to live and prosper as leaders in their own way.

  8. How Right you are. I never had someone to teach me well and I had to do alot on my own and make the mistakes but I learning from men at church and other mentors to help me along the way. I have a great product and do excellent work but I’m learning to network more so I can make the connections so I can recieve referrals and make my like a little easier and less stressful. Chris

  9. I agree with this post and the comments on the book Gung Ho! This is an excellent book and a very relatable story.

    As a consultant, I serve as a coach / facilitator only to help the people I’m working with teach me! They essentially are students and teachers among themselves and we serve as catalysts to foster this type of learning environment.

    Hands down, the bestway to teach someone something new is to have them do their own homework and research and ask them to present their findings to the team. It’s amazing how this not only builds confidence and commitment, but introduces a renewed sense of accountability to the team, personal responsibility, and integrity.

    Thanks for sharing.

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