One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received was from my mum and dad. They were ‘salt of the earth’ country Queensland graziers who raised my siblings and I to care for others and their needs.
They would tell us: ‘always listen and think about others’ (by which they meant simply: show empathy).
My parents were always there to help anyone and loved listening to people. I remember them telling me this from when I was five-years-old.
Have you ever felt like someone is ‘just not listening’ or ‘they just don't care’? I learnt back in the 1970s as a young banker, if I used the listening and empathy skills that I had been taught as a nipper, I received a much better response and collaboration from my friends, colleagues and clients. I realised what my parents had taught me actually worked and was good for all.
Well today I am the Wealth Manager with Yellow Brick Road Darwin based in the multicultural Parap Shopping Village, just two kilometres from Darwin CBD, and after 40 years in the finance industry I still use and teach that advice on a daily basis. Especially when fishing in the Top End: listening for crocs and understanding that they live here too!
I taught this approach daily to my two children of whom I am so proud. They are in their twenties and display these qualities on a daily basis in their lives. I too listen and show empathy with colleagues and clients which helps me establish a strong relationship with them.
The actions of listening and empathy are very intertwined but sadly but many people overlook the importance of doing both consistently. The lyrics in Beyonce's song ‘Listen’ speaks to this principle. Every now and then I've been too busy and have forgotten to be vigilant to both. The negative results with people quickly remind me of my listening lapses.
Remember ‘there's no traffic jam going the extra mile’ and listening and showing empathy are two of the strongest ways to connect with people.