28 Great Thoughts on Listening

Jerold Panas is CEO of one of the nation’s premier campaign services and financial resource development firms, and believes wholeheartedly in the power of listening. Do you?

Panas insists that listening is “the single most powerful ammunition in your arsenal of fundraising, marketing and selling skills. Best of all, it’s a talent that can be learned and acquired.”

We also believe it’s one of the best ways any one of us can walk the way of Jesus as we live, work, and play. After all, it’s an art that Jesus practiced—and we can do the same.

Here are twenty-eight of Panas’ thoughtful and inspiring insights about listening:

  1. It often shows an extraordinary command of the language to say nothing.
  2. There is no greater compliment to a person than demonstrating a keen interest in them. You do this by listening intently.
  3. We are each blessed with two ears and one mouth—a constant reminder that we should listen twice as much as we talk.
  4. Keeping quiet at the right moments is an important ingredient for an open communication and a good conversation.
  5. Listening is the most effective possible way to build and enhance a relationship.
  6. Probe and ask questions. You do this not for the sake of having something to say—but to gain information and better understanding.
  7. What should you listen for?  The little things. Everything.
  8. Listen with your eyes.
  9. Listen with your body.
  10. You don’t listen to respond. You listen to gain information.
  11. Studies show that occasionally you should nod slightly three times (yes, three times!). People will talk three to four times as much when you follow this process.
  12. Listen to context, listen for content, and you’ll listen effectively.
  13. Make certain you know more about the person than they know about you. You do this by listening.
  14. Maintain positive eye contact. It shows interest.
  15. The better you listen, the more you realize how little you know.
  16. Smile! It dramatically affects how people respond to you. And they will smile back.
  17. Most of us know how to keep silent. But few know when. (Most of the time! Except when you are probing and asking questions.)
  18. When you talk too much, it is hard to remember all you said—and harder still to remember what they said.
  19. Open questions (How? Why? What? When?) allow the respondent an opportunity to provide a full and revealing answer.
  20. Listen seventy-five percent of the time.
  21. Successful selling and marketing is not as much about knowing the right answers as it is about knowing the right questions.
  22. Questions unlock hearts and minds.
  23. Instead of a to-do list, consider a to-ask list.
  24. When you ask a question and you pause, suddenly the listener is once again the focal point.
  25. When you want to persuade, you always get further by asking a question than by making a statement.
  26. If you want to change hearts and minds, ask questions.
  27. I never learn anything when I talk. I only learn when I ask questions.
  28. You honor the other person when you ask questions.