In his book, Five Minutes on Mondays: Finding Unexpected Purpose, Peace, and Fulfillment at Work, Alan Lurie shares some of the inspirational messages that he was asked by his boss to provide at a standing team meeting each Monday morning. Many are thought provoking and call business men and women to reflect on the way we work together as a team and the way we interact with our customers.
One of the messages was based on the Pirkei Avot. The Pirkei Avot, which can be translated to English as the sayings of our fathers, is a collection of short axioms or proverbs penned over 2,000 years ago in the Jewish Talmud.
In this particular message, Lurie shares seven characteristics or qualities of a wise man.
- The wise man does not speak before someone wiser than him.
- He does not break into his fellow’s speech.
- He is not is a rush to reply.
- He asks what is relevant and replies to the point.
- He speaks of first things first and last things last.
- Of what he has not heard he says, “I have not heard.”
- And he acknowledges what is true.
The opposite is true for a fool.
Do these still apply today? You betcha! Some ancient texts are just as insightful and valid today as they were to moment they were put to parchment.
In todays terms, we might say it something like this:
- Listen to others who know more than you. Better yet, seek out a mentor to help you grow and mature.
- Don’t interrupt; it’s rude and doesn’t make the other person feel that you understand them. Let them finish.
- When someone else is speaking, listen to them. Don’t just sit quietly thinking about what you’re going to say when the other person finally finishes their monologue. Listen to them.
- When the other person is speaking, they may go off on some rabbit trails. That’s ok. When it’s your turn to talk, you can bring it back around to the topic at hand.
- Acknowledge and speak to the most important things first.
- Don’t tell people more than you know. If you don’t know the answer to their question, admit it. You may actually learn something.
- Sometimes, the other person may have a very valid criticism of you. If it’s true, acknowledge it. Remember, feedback is a gift.
As the author of the maxim that Lurie shared in his book knew: good communications is all about listening. The better you listen, whether in IT leadership, in sales, or at home with your family, the better you’ll understand the needs of the other person. And better yet, they’ll know that you understand their needs. And that can make all the difference.