I’ve done something more notable than even Michael Phelps winning eight gold medals. (Yawn.)
I went out in the world and listened. To another person. Hells to the yeah.
It was the most startling experience.
A conversational pause does not mean the person has finished speaking.
–Tom B. Taker
Interpreting every single pause since the dawn of time as “my turn to talk” means you are an asshole.
–Tom B. Taker
My wife was speaking to me. I was listening. Wow. I know. It can happen. Okay, okay. Stay calm. Don’t blow it. Keep it together, man. So far so good.
Then she paused.
This was an industrial heavy-duty kind of a pause. A good ten seconds. In today’s world that is literally an eternity. I had my feelers out. Was she done? Was she waiting on me to comment? Was it my turn?
I still don’t know what came over me but I decided to wait. I was in it for the long haul.
Then, simply, she continued. And she expressed an additional thought that added more to what she had just previously said. A thought that, if I had interrupted, I would never have heard for the rest of my life.
This is it, I thought! The land of milk and honey over the rainbow. That land that assholes never get to see.
It was so earth shattering that a few days later I even tried it again.
When pondering the highly-advanced concept of listening it is perhaps fruitful to examine it in a larger context. Listening is part of the process of “communication.”
Communication can take many forms. It has many uses.
- To share information
- To hurt
- To verbally masturbate
- To control
- To feel good about yourself
- To humiliate
- To cause pain
Those are all worthy goals, but one thing is clear: Without listening none of those objectives have a remote chance in Hell of success.
Communication has four conditions that must be met:
Eliminate any one of these conditions and you no longer have “communication.” For example, eliminate the sender and you’re left with a classic case of verbal masturbation. Look around you and you can probably see examples of this right now.
Why listen? For one thing, it gives you a big advantage over everyone else. I googled it and found some of the benefits:
- We listen to obtain information.
- We listen to understand.
- We listen for enjoyment.
- We listen to learn.
Enjoyment? Wow. There must be a lot of masochists out there, denying themselves the pleasure of listening. Fools!
Studies show that an average person remembers only 25 to 50 percent of what they hear.
You want to be one of the few? One of an elite team of listeners that can actually climb up the slippery slope and claim the higher ground and look down on the other people like they are ants? Then listen up!
Guru’s Goals of Communication/Listening
- Strive to speak less than fifty percent of the words in every conversation.
- Do not think ahead to what you will say when it is finally your turn.
- Learn to recognize conversational pauses and resist the urge to speak.
- Recognize the moment. Like Yoda says, be mindful of the present. Stay focused.
- Don’t attempt to analyze or judge what’s being said. There will be plenty of time for that later.
My theory is that simply by making the effort will automatically put you in the one percent even if you’re not good at it. So go out there and get yourself some communications.