One of the recurring comments we heard from our son’s friends was that Matt would never say a bad word about anyone, even if he could have, he just didn’t. It was how Matt lived his life. He had an incredibly admirable level of openness that he greeted every person and situation with. Never judging, always listening with compassion.
Most of us listen with half of our attention and the other half is focused on how we are going to respond.
We are quick to judge without trying to truly understand what the other person is meaning. According to Stephen Covey, renowned leadership expert and international best-selling author,
“The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply.”
Yup, sadly, I do that. But I am working on changing the way I listen. It’s harder than you’d think.
Challenge yourself, practice listening to understand.
Here’s a great story with a moral to keep in mind when listening:
Socrates came upon an acquaintance who excitedly said to him, “Do you know what I just heard about one of your students?”
“Just a minute,” Socrates replied. “Before you tell me I’d like you to pass a little test.
“The first test is Truth. Are you sure that what you will say is true?
“Oh no,” the man said, “actually I just heard about it.”
“So you don’t really know if it’s true,” Socrates said. “The second test, is Goodness.
Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?”
“No, on the contrary.”
“So,” Socrates interrupted, “you want to tell me something bad about him even though you’re not certain it’s true?”
The man shrugged, rather embarrassed. Socrates continued. “You may still pass though, because there is a third test, the filter of Usefulness.
Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me at all?”
“Well it . . . no, not really. .”
“Well, concluded Socates, “if what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor ever Useful, why tell it to me at all?”
The man was defeated and ashamed.
So be like Matt and Socrates, and follow those three simple rules before you speak about other people.
As always, I’d appreciate it if you would help me get the word out about the Matt Kurtz Kindness Award of $250 (nominate someone who inspires you) and the Matt Kurtz Kindness Grant of $250 (submit an act of kindness you would do with $250).