It’s funny, after years of coaching and presenting to many hundreds of people, I’m still amazed sometimes by the responses I get.

I’m delivering a 2 day training session for a client at the moment and one of the participants has made it quite clear to me that he/she already knows most of the content I’m presenting. This in itself doesn’t bother me. I don’t believe what I have to offer works for everyone. What does bother me is that this person’s approach means they’re limiting the value they’ll derive from the sessions.

This got me thinking about a few principles I’ve learned about learning…and how to improve results through true open-mindedness and a commitment to personal improvement.

Here’s my top 3:

  1. Get rid of the ‘buts’ and ‘I know’s – nothing shuts down another person in conversation more than saying “yeah but I already know….” We can always learn something from everyone/every situation, even if it’s something small or just a distinction or point of clarity. Rather than shut the other person down and challenge them, what are you really risking by being open to their information or viewpoint? Perhaps they have a unique perspective on something you’ve not considered? Whatever it might be, allowing them to share isn’t going to kill you…in fact it can often make you stronger (and wealthier!)
  2. If it’s not written down…It’s not on this planet – I’m often challenged by people on this point. They usually tell me things like “Yeah but Warrick, I have a great memory” (notice the lead-in phrase?) or “Warrick, I don’t write things down because it just distracts me from listening to the person speaking” Whatever the individuals’ justification, there’s evidence that shows taking notes while listening to a speaker/presenter increases the amount of key facts remembered versus the non-note-takers who remember the same amount, although simply a random selection of the original information.
  3. Consider the possibilities – although it’s at number 3, this is probably the biggie. Time and again I overhear people in right-wrong exchanges…sometimes with me! Seriously though, so many people are out to be heard, to get their point across, to have their say that they don’t realise the other person isn’t really listening to them – they’re just thinking of what they are going to say next! Try this next time you’re ‘debating’ something with another person – say something like “That’s interesting [Bob], tell me more about your perspective on [topic or opinion], I’d like to hear more.” Watch them relax, stop ‘arguing’ and actually share their ideas or opinion with you. The key here is to truly listen to them and not sit there thinking of what you’re going to say next. Once they’ve expressed themselves to you, they’ll be much more receptive to your ideas. Now, if you both consider the possibilities that might exist around the particular idea or subject you were debating, you might just come up with a new angle/solution/perspective neither of you had considered before! Heard the expression ‘two heads are better than one’?

So, next time you feel the need to switch off, disagree or simply make yourself heard first, try being truly open to new ideas and opinions….you might just learn something.

Oh, and feel free to let me know if it works for you. I always like to hear stories of people applying the info I share here.

Make a difference.