Time to think…about listening

“To the youngster talking nonsense Zeno said, ‘The reason why we have two ears and only one mouth is so we might listen more and talk less.”
Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers

 

If there is a time when it is especially important to listen more and talk less, then it is in these straitened times. When we feel that no-one is listening to you, or, worse still (in my opinion), someone finishes your sentence for you or paraphrases what you say using their own words and thereby changes the essence of what you meant, you feel rejected and put down.

 

When feeling the urge to say something, ask yourself first this question: ‘Why am I talking?’ Coaches use the acronym WAIT to remind them to do this. Our common conversational pattern is to make a statement, question the other person about their orientation to it, and then listen to their response (from our own point of view). True understanding evolves when we change this sequence: listen first, then ask questions to clarify what the other person meant, before reaching a mutually-explored conclusion or statement. Practice makes progress.