Shakespeare on Business Communicating: To All Lend Thy Ear


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When I was in high school we were studying several Shakespeare plays, and every now and then I was struck by the poignancy of a given phrase.

One of them seemed to be a blending of Machiavelli and Dale Carnegie and it is still sage wisdom:

“To all lend thy ear, but few thy tongue. ”

I’ve never come across a pithier way of saying listening is more important than speaking.

And except for a very brief, and yes, shining moment in recent history, the laurels have gone to great speakers instead of to fine listeners.

At one point a large corporation, one of my consulting clients, declared in its advertising that “We understand the importance of listening. ” That same company resolved to train all of its associates in listening skills, and this launched a fad, for lack of a better term.

Listening became a topic in college catalogues, and other companies offered their own courses.

But then, seemingly as quickly as it burst onto the scene, listening faded as a topical area.

What happened?

In a word, prosperity.

It seems companies are mostly interested in listening, especially to customers, when times are tough. The listening fad emerged during a deep recession, so corporations were willing to try anything.

Around this time, McDonald’s and Burger King coined, arguably, their most customer-centered slogans: “We Do It All For You” and “Have It Your Way. ”

Will listening make a comeback?

You can bet on it

Dr. Gary S. Goodman is the best-selling author of 12 books, over 700 articles, and the creator of numerous audio and video training programs, including “The Law of Large Numbers: How To Make Success Inevitable, " published by Nightingale-Conant-a favorite among salespeople and entrepreneurs. For information about booking Gary to speak at your next sales, customer service or management meeting, conference or convention, please address your inquiry to: .


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