We prefer speaking over listening because we would rather persuade than be persuaded. Being open to listening means embracing the possibility of being persuaded. And this represents a subtle threat to our own worldview.
Any time we come across information that conflicts with our worldview, our instinct is to push it away. As a result, we would much rather speak and reinforce our worldview, then listen and create the potential for it to change.
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But this is only half of communication.
Listening is the other half of communication and is neglected most of the time.
We usually think that being a good listener means being polite and that it is for the benefit of the speaker, not for ourselves. But the true value of listening isn’t for the speaker at all. It is for the listener. Being able to understand and gather the ideas of others allows us to add them to our own.
One of Steven Covey’s seven habits in his best-selling book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, was entitled “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
Most people would really like to just have someone to listen to their thoughts. Speaking and informing can only be successful after that.
In large organizations, being a great programmer, designer or writer is useless if you can’t effectively coordinate with the people around you. And in bigger organizations, the people around you can easily become the biggest obstacle to that success.
Knowing how to deal with people artfully, therefore, can easily become a key skill to success.
Since time is a fixed quantity, everything you say yes to implies a no to something else and vice versa.
Saying yes subtly squeezes everything else, but rarely in ways we can easily perceive. When saying no, what is left over is enriched, but this additional space is often neglected.
Flashcards can be a powerful learning tool, but they can also be a waste of time.
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