What are you learning?
My dad grew up on a ranch in North Dakota. He has a saying from his childhood – you may have heard it elsewhere – that’s: “You learn more by listening than by talking.”
Sure, we often gain by thinking out loud, including discovering our truth by speaking it. But on the whole, listening brings lots more valuable information than talking does.
Nonetheless, many people are not the greatest listeners. (You’ve probably noticed this already: at work, at home, when you’re trying to work something out with your partner . . .) What’s it feel like when they don’t listen to you? Or maybe listen, but don’t inquire further? It’s not good. Besides missing out on important information – including, often most importantly, your underlying feelings and wants – they’re sending the implicit message that they’re not that interested (even though, deep down, they might be).
Then turn it around: what do you think they feel like if you don’t listen that well to them? Not very good either.
Being a good listener brings many benefits: gathering useful information, making others feel like they matter to you, sustaining a sense of connection with people, and stepping out of your own familiar frame of reference.
One of the best ways to listen well is to ask questions. [Read more...]