Have you been in a conversation that is important to you but the other person(s) don’t seem to care?  How about communicating and neither of you are truly understanding what the other person is saying?  Ever been a part of a team where the group conversation gets out of hand for one reason or another?  Is it the other person’s fault or could it possibly be our own?

To “listen without defending; speak without offending” is a discipline that we all should apply daily.  Listening allows for understanding and in return, offer words of understanding.  To listen and speak appropriately is intentional.  I am reminded that we have been given two (2) ears and one (1) mouth which means we should be listening twice as much as speaking.  There is a difference between hearing and listening and it is this: listening is concentrating on what the speaker (sender) is saying.

Distractions are all around us; things or people that are vying for our attention.  As there are hundreds of examples, here is one: electronic devices.  I am a fan of them.  Within the workplace, being on a University campus and having children of my own, I always ask for electronic devices to be put down when having a conversation.  This removes distractions and allows the opportunity for true listening to take place for all of us.

Can you think of a time (maybe just recently) that maybe, just maybe, we missed out on developing a co-worker, employee, a relationship or ourselves because we were not paying attention?  Maybe the answer came but we were only partially concentrating because we were focused on other things or people (hearing)?

By listening, we offer respect to those around us. So today, I encourage you to commit to “listen without defending; speak without offending”.  Can you imagine what your life or the workplace culture would be like if the majority (if not all) chose to practice this each moment of the day?