Listening, Lighting Fires, and Laughing Uncontrollably

“It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Listening is an enabler, for love, learning, understanding, advising, taking action, and a whole lot more. Listening allows us to process speech, convert emotions, build thoughts, and plan reactions. Listening balances expression; if our speech, tone, and visible emotions lift us up, it’s our ability to subsequently listen that gets us back on the ground.

But a problem is that listening requires input – input that is not always there and is entirely dependent upon another party. It’s not entirely common that the speaker knows what to say or is able to sufficiently express the thoughts, ideas, and feelings that tread his or her mind.

Accordingly, the responsibility to effectively navigate this two-way street goes to both parties. As a listener, it’s important to enable effective input through a variety of measures, such as setting the tone, establishing trust, and asking the right question.

An additional tactic for effective two-way communication that enables the most intellectually profitable form of listening, is to light a fire that is easily put out. By lighting the light fire – an easily distinguishable one that gives the reader some initial motivation – more valuable data is exchanged between parties, fueled by more sincere emotion of those parties. As a result, our collective knowledge grows and wisdom prevails while the relationship still gets stronger.

Listening is not just sitting back and acting interested; listening is active participation in the conversation, and in particular, invoking in the speaker the right drivers for speech and expression. At the end of the day, we are all people, and all have things to say, opinions to share, and feelings to express. We should embrace each conversation as a two-way street and ensure we optimize the result of that conversation by using all tactics at hand. Let’s all be active listeners.

“To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation.” – Chinese Proverb

Well my post is actually done, but as I was scanning the web for some good images that might be representative of the above, I somehow stumbled on this one below, and burst out laughing as a result. C’mon, that’s worth a good hearty chuckle!


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