I found this amazing insight on ethics and interpersonal relationships taken from the Talmud written more than 1,900 years ago.

“A wise man does not speak before one who is greater than him in wisdom or in years; he does not interrupt the words of his fellow; he does not rush to answer; he asks what is relevant to the subject matter and replies to the point; he speaks of first things first and of last things last; concerning that which he has not heard, he says, ‘I have not heard,’ and he acknowledges the truth.”

When I first read this, I thought whoever wrote it must have been a salesman. This short paragraph summarized the most important components of listening.

For me, the first phrase “A wise man does not speak before one who is greater than him in wisdom or in years” is more about wisdom than age. Think about it. If you are meeting with potential referrers or prospective customers, who have been working in their business for many years, they are going to know more about their business than you.

Many veteran business owners and managers are keepers of the oral history of their business and information about their industry or profession. Don’t dismiss these business veterans as dinosaurs. You and I have plenty to learn from these folks. They are wise in many ways. And, in order to take advantage of their wisdom, you have to learn how to listen. Yes, listen; with a capital L.

Recommended reading: Critical Connections - The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing  by Evan Leepson, MBA