I like to listen to people to learn what they know and experience. I have learned things from people who weren’t available in any book I have read. One time I worked with a coworker whose work history was almost identical to mine. She was in a different industry, but she worked with the same companies and had many of the same experiences. It was remarkable how much in common we shared.
So it wasn’t a surprise when she asked if I wanted to go to lunch sometime and talk. I said sure. If you listen to people good things happen. Even if things don’t happen for you, you learned something and that is helpful to. Most people hunger to be listened to. I would say that a large part of my success has been in listening to people. You don’t have to say anything wise, or sometimes anything at all, but just have an open mind what someone is saying. You don’t have to agree, but if you listen, you will find our own ideas challenged and perhaps improved.
It has been my experience in conversations that we don’t change when we have debates or intellectual thoughts about a topic. We tend to harden our positions when we think we have to defend our beliefs. However when I just explore ideas and consider possibilities, then sometimes I think, perhaps a change here might help me. Here is an example.
I tend to prefer to use humor to defuse tense situations and to help progress things along. One time my boss said that my humor in a survey may be negatively perceived by management. I had gotten a compliment about that gentle joke from one survey taker. I was starting to defend my point of view but my boss was insistent that it may not be a good idea. I took his cue since he knew the political situation in the company better and changed it. Yes perhaps it was unnecessary, but if it makes my boss feel better than I am ok with it. I said to him “If you tell me to change it I will.” He said to change it. He is looking out for my best interests and I value that. I certainty don’t want to appear inappropriate to management. Some battles are not worth being “right” about, and I would rather look like a good employee than a funny one.
We make small choices that can have big consequences. Sometimes the smallest choice has the biggest consequence. Maybe that saved me from being fired? Maybe it was a non issue. No matter, you can benefit from the wisdom of others without needing to be right all the time. Did I give in? No, I changed tactics and instead said something inspirational which he approved of instead. My goal was to make people feel good after doing the survey and there are many ways to accomplish that.