Don’t Talk. Or, Listen to Improve Communications.


One day more than 30 years ago, John Francis stopped talking. And a funny thing happened next. As he says it, “I started listening. For the first time in a long time.”

Walk the earth … my 17-year vow of silence


Quiet was the theme of the Ted Radio Hour episode I listened today. It really struck me how important quiet is to communications. How can you listen if you can’t hear?

John Francis took it to the extreme. He didn’t talk for 17 years. He learned, by not talking, that he hadn’t really been listening. Without pausing to really listen to the other person, he never really heard what they wanted to say. Now, speaking eloquently, with humor, he is a better communicator because he listens.

Improving Communications

How can we apply this lesson of quiet in the digital workplace? Where can listening help improve communications with customers, partners and co-workers online? I’ve learned to listen when I publish.

Blogging publicly for more than 7 years on digital collaboration topics, I listened to what my audience was interested in. I measured the interest in topics through tools like Google Analytics. What pages were most read? What search terms brought readers? How did they leave? Over the past year, had more than 50,000 readers. That’s up 83% from the year before, in part, because I’ve listened.


Jive Software

Is it any wonder I was so drawn to Jive? Internal communications has been begging for this kind of listening tool. With the products Jive-n and Jive-x, blog analytics are built in. They’re called Impact Metrics.


Indications of audience reaction are pervasive throughout Jive’s software products. Another built-in tool, Community Manager Reports, help owners of places large and small understand the impact.

Below is a view of “My Content.” I used this view to find a good example for the impact metrics picture above. The 7 recent items below have more than 1700 views. Maybe I should work on the likes, though. I only have 16 likes. In a short amount of quiet review, bookmark counts and comment counts give an author, or just a browser, more information. All together they help paint a picture of how content is resonating with the audience.


Don’t Talk? Or, Listen.

Ted Radio Hour has made it onto my list of top podcasts . I’ll listen to the full John Francis Ted Talk, too. Unlike Mr. Frances, I won’t stop talking for 17 years. Much like him, I do plan to listen and communicate better. Also, I’ll look for the best digital communication tools, like Jive. And, I’ll continue to share what I learn with others who want to listen.

Let me know what you’re thinking with a comment below, a private message through LinkedIn, an email to or a tweet to I promise to be quiet and listen.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn on November 20th, 2015.

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