Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States, was infamous for his taciturn ways, earning him the nickname “Silent Cal.” But Coolidge wasn’t quiet because he was extremely introverted or inarticulate – on the contrary, he was a highly visible President who entertained countless guests at the white house and proved to be a capable public communicator, holding frequent press conferences and speaking on the radio.
So why did he so say so little during normal conversation? One thing Coolidge did say was, “No man ever listened himself out of a job.” Coolidge was a listener, not a talker. He realized the value of saying less and listening more.
It is in human nature to want to be heard; we all desire attention and recognition to some degree. Even if you don’t have a loquacious demeanor, like most of us you probably enjoy offering your “two-cents” and interjecting your own opinions and insights during conversation. For most, it takes much less discipline to speak than to refrain from speaking.
Speaking less and listening more has multiple benefits. By “keeping your mouth shut” you might keep yourself out of trouble – many a sticky situation could be averted if only certain things weren’t said. And I would argue that it is better for people to think you’re reserved than to judge you as ignorant thanks to a foolish comment. As Coolidge wisely noted, “If you don’t say anything, you won’t be called on to repeat it.” He also said, “I have never been hurt by what I have not said.”
When you listen more and talk less you also learn more. You can always benefit from listening to the words and insights of others. Whether it be the acquisition of knowledge through the wisdom of what they’re saying, or merely the advantage of knowing their opinion and understanding their perspective, you can almost always find a way to leverage what you hear when you take the time to listen.
How about you – how much listening do you do? Do you listen more than you speak, or do you speak more than you listen? Learn an important success principle from the example of our 30th President, and take the time to consider the power of listening and how it can be leveraged in your own life. Then commit yourself to trying to develop this important habit and skill – the benefits will be immeasurable!
In the words of Calvin Coolidge himself, “It takes a great man [person] to be a good listener.”
Discussion: What is something you think is gained by listening more and talking less? Leave a comment below!