Dual Footprints, Part 5 – A Commitment to Listen


Over the past four weeks I covered the following:

  • A commitment to time
  • A commitment to transparency
  • A commitment to kill your ego.

This week’s topic is listening.

Listening is Flattery

Dr. Joyce Brothers said, “Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery.”1 Communication involves the sender, the receiver, and the message. However, if the receiver is not listening then the message is either lost or incomplete, there is a breakdown in communication, and the mentoring relationship is not effective. People are appreciative when heard and listened to, and respect deepens for the other person.

Listening, Learning, and Growth

What is the point of mentoring if one or both parties do not listen? Each person exchanges words, but the opportunity for learning and growth dissipates into the air. Listening requires concentration and that engages the brain in work.

Therein lies a problem. Too many people are preoccupied with other thoughts, and they do not want to engage their brain in work. When time has been set aside to mentor someone, then the distractions must be set aside as well. What distractions? Cell phones, laptop, side conversations, and any number of other disruptions that easily interrupt listening, which in turn creates a barrier to learning and growth.

The Commitment

In his book, Everyone Communicates Few Connect, John C. Maxwell said, “Mutual concern creates connection between people.”2

An effective mentoring relationship demonstrates concern and that begins with the commitment to listen. The mentor listens to the mentee and the mentee listens to the mentor. There is a smooth flow of questions and information sharing between each person. This is called effective communication, creating trust and an environment conducive to learning and growth.

How are your communication and listening skills?  As a member of the John Maxwell Leadership Team, I have an assessment tool that is designed to help you improve your communication skills that are learned and not endowed at birth. Contact me at [email protected] and visit my website at www.fireofficerleadershipacademy.com.

1Dr. Mardy Grothe, Metaphors be With You, (New York: Harper Collins Publishers), 242

2John C. Maxwell, Everyone Communicates Few Connect, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2010), 38

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