“The word LISTEN
“The word LISTEN contains the same word as SILENT.”

~Alfred Brendel

Being a leader is one of the most challenging feats you can ever encounter. Once you are a leader, you don’t just delegate work, you also delegate yourself. You have to delegate your thoughts, your words, your patience, your understanding, and so many other aspects to each situation. How can a leader do that at best with effectiveness and long-term meaningfulness?

The answer to this question is ‘Silence’. Listening becomes a definite and critical aspect of silence. If you haven’t been told, I am sure you must have told someone to ‘read the room’. 

‘Read the Room’ is an expression often used as a way of telling someone to either not speak or understand the situation and then speak. For instance, you’ve just entered a room that was supposed to be celebrated but now it’s just a room full of people with grim faces and not a single smile in sight. But you’ve entered the room with a large ice cream cake, some crackers in your hand, and a hooting horn to play loudly to give it a party atmosphere. Would you continue to cheer and hoot the horn, or would look around you and ask about the matter at hand?

Listening with your eyes, mind, and words

Listening happens through the ears. Sound travels and our ears receive it. But the matter doesn’t end there, does it? Once we hear something, our mind wants to process the sound. If a bird chirps, we want to reassure ourselves that it’s a bird and not any other kind of animal.

If a person calls out to you from another room, you may walk over to them to understand what they want to discuss. So, the listening starts, maybe, from the ear, but then when and where does it end?

This is a crucial question because many people have a set and defined boundary for listening. They not only define their level of listening but to what extent as well. This means that with some people, you can only utter up to 5 words before they jump in to interrupt you and your train of thought. With these types of people, you will commonly find them complaining about why certain points were not discussed with them.

At the same time, some people patiently listen because they are genuinely interested in what you have to say. So, here’s what leaders should know about silence and why it is the major cause of intense and impactful focus.

A leader needs to adopt silence as a means to mentally listen to what a person tells them. However, this silence must also transcend their verbal and physical self and never limit itself to just listening.

Listening mentally, verbally, and physically results in the deepest kind of listening. This further results in the effect of a focused sense of listening, which in turn results in listening to liberation. Here, you liberate yourself and the other person because you are not just listening to what a person is saying. Rather you are listening to the reason behind what they are saying.

Husband: “I don’t understand!? You said you liked dandelions so I sent you a bouquet that had dandelions in them. Do you how difficult it is to get them from one country to another ensuring they don’t die on the way here?”

Wife: “Yes, I said I liked Dandelions but this is not what I meant. I wanted to go somewhere with you to a garden that had dandelions. It just felt like a nice place to be with someone special.”

Husband: “So, why didn’t you just say that in the first place!!?”

The husband walks off complaining about why women are so confusing. The wife walks off muttering about why men never listen. A common situation where a couple can’t truly understand or listen to what a person means as opposed to what they are saying.

Taking a more corporate situation, let’s look at this example:

Boss: “Why didn’t you finish and submit the report I asked for yesterday?”

Employee: “I wasn’t able to because the report was comprehensive, and I did say that it would take time. Probably another day or two. I did have some other work to complete.”

Boss: “You should have emailed me your concerns rather than telling me verbally. You know how busy I am. I would have assigned this work to someone who could report to me on time. Finish the report and give it to me today.”

Employee: “But sire, due to the work I can’t…”

Boss: “I want the report today. This is final!”

The employee walks about disgruntled with the fact that they might have to stay late after working hours to complete the report. The boss is not bothered about the other deadlines that their employee is already burdened with; this is what the employee believes is the situation.

The boss is irritated as he feels that the employee has slacked and delayed on previous work. So, he believes that pressuring the employee will lead him or her to submit their work on time.

In these situations, the real conversation begins when the person has silenced their mind, body, and words. This is done to listen more intently with silence as the cause and focus as the effect.

In doing so, conversations with serious matters can be resolved and both the listener and the speaker are liberated.

Therefore, the embodiment of silence in a leader is important. It must be adopted to accentuate the listening capacity through mental, verbal, and physical enaction.

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