Old Man Rivers
Erik, maintenance foreman for a paving company in Redmond, Oregon, told session six of the Leadership Development Lab:
"We have this guy at work that is a truck driver and he 'knows everything!' When any of us are in the shop working on any of our exceptionally broad variety of large and small equipment, he always has to put in his 'two cents.' I mean, this guy has done everything can do anything! Just ask him. It's really annoying and most of us don't like it.
"The guys in our shop gave him the nickname 'Old man rivers.' When they see him coming they scatter. In the past six weeks I've found that if I listen to him, I mean really listen to him, he will help me in situations that I'm not sure of myself. He really does have a wealth of knowledge. His braggadocio delivery is not always the best so I have forced myself to look past his deliver to the content of his message.
"The lesson I have learned from this experience is that when I'm able to set aside some of his annoying personality quirks, there is a wealth of knowledge for me to learn from. I have realized that if I don't learn from my elders - all their wealth of knowledge and experience will be lost. The kind of cross discipline, versatile mechanics that we used to literally breed on America's farms are dying off.
"The action I call you to take is listen to your elders. The 'old timers' at your company didn't make it this far in life by accident. They have life learnings that you have not experienced and when you listen to them you gain the benefit of their experience without taking the time, expense, and risks they had to invest.
"The benefit you will gain is a short cut to the knowledge and experience of a lifetime."
In the Language of Leadership, we set out Seven Keys to Effective Listening.
1. Find areas of interest
2. Judge content, not delivery
3. Listen for ideas
4. Be flexible
5. Exercise your mind
6. Keep your mind open
7. Capitalize on the fact that thought is faster than speech
Erik learned by applying #2, 3, and 6 that he was able to gain the benefits of another person's experiences of a lifetime. Start today to listen with more patience. Relax. Make more time to listen. You will save lots of time in the process.