Two ears, one mouth. Listen twice as much as you speak.
I was reminded of this yesterday after an extensive conversation with a gentleman whom I later referred to as ‘a very gracious listener.’
This rule is hard for me for a few different reasons:
1. I’m a talker. By genetic make-up, or ancestry, or choice, or by expectation, I’m a guy that talks. I can’t deny that meeting new people and keeping a conversation going is one of my strong points (not to mention, I enjoy it). I also like to believe that I have some intuition in conversations that allows me to read others and know if they agree, disagree, are bored, or engaged (in the conversation). All of this is pretty hunky-dory, except for:
2. I like me more than I like anyone else. Call it the human condition, or selfish, or my own problem – I’m simply more interested in what I have going on, or my opinion, or my life than I am in anyone else’s.
I believe that the remedy for #2 (and the improvement of the skill of #1) is found in sacrifice and practice. Like so many other aspects of our lives, a focused attention on the mastery of a skill can yield results that we didn’t dare dream of. To be willing to give up on my story for a bit and strictly focus on hearing the other person is a skill I intend to improve. I’m convinced that it would be a strikingly more useful tactic than the one I currently use: “Hurry up and finish talking so I can tell you what I think.”
I don’t say any of this to come across as self-degradation or self-pity. Instead, I’ve spent the morning dreaming of the great service I will be to others when I can learn to hear their problems. Not because I have the solutions, but because sometimes, people just need to be heard.
Doesn’t that sound great?
So, tell me – what are you dealing with today? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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