One mouth, two ears … you do the math

Soft SkillsWe have two ears and one mouth so we may listen more and talk less. – Epictetus

Or is it …

We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say. – Zeno of Citium

Or maybe …

We have two ears and only one tongue in order that we may hear more and speak less. – Diogenes Laërtius

When philosophers know their words could be memorialized through the centuries, shouldn’t they avoid saying the same things?

You're Fired!
So who do you think actually said it? Depends on who you ask, or rather, who you listen to.

What is for certain is you cannot say enough about the art of listening, it is that important!

Here is my favorite version of the same quote:

You’re short on ears and long on mouth. – John Wayne.

Great communication skills

Great communication depends entirely on a person’s ability to listen.

Hearing, for the most part, is a no-brainer. But when we listen, that’s when the neurons really fire.

It’s said thoughts move about four times faster than speech, so don’t rush. When other people are talking, there is plenty of time to listen to them.

People who listen well absorb issues, understand feelings, foresee problems and develop solutions.

4 keys to listening well

Any one can hear and parrot back information. Here are four solid steps to better listening:

  1. Keep yourself clear. Give the speaker your attention and stay focused. This is not the time to plan your response.
  2. Take notes, especially if it is going to get complicated.
  3. Hold your tongue. Resist the urge to inject when you know the speaker still has lots to say.
  4. Hold judgment. Listening is not the time to disagree.

So, what’s your favorite listening quote? Please share it as a comment.

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  1. May-Rita Condon says:

    “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

  2. Listening is a skill

  3. Donna B says:

    Shut up and listen you might learn something useful.

  4. David Scott says:

    A good listener is not only popular, but after a while he knows something.

  5. Barbara says:

    En boca cerrada no entran las moscas. (Translation: In a closed mouth enter no flies)

  6. William Freimuth says:

    What people are tired of, the people who agree with me, what they’re tired of is listening to that sound, the sound of the people who’ve given up.
    Bill Cosby

  7. William Freimuth says:

    Any problem, big or small, within a family, always seems to start with bad communication. Someone isn’t listening.
    Emma Thompson

  8. While not exactly on point my favorite saying is: “I can explain it to you but I cannot understand it for you”

  9. L Williams says:

    “Silent” and “Listen” are spelled with the same letters.

  10. We are equipped with 1 mouth and 2 ears – we should use them proportionately.

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