Speak Less, Listen More

Most people steer clear from meaningful conversations, but for change to happen, these have to take place.

Most people love small talk. They love to talk about picture frames, and they love to talk about the weather, but they don’t love having conversations that matter. (If these things really matter to a person, then of course, I want to talk about them, but typically these topics are a search to talk about something, anything, really.) In fact, most people steer clear from meaningful conversations, but for change to happen, these have to take place. The mentality of “if we don’t look at the problem, then it’s not there” doesn’t create change; it just doesn’t. Look, I know it’s uncomfortable, but for things to change we have to talk about things that matter.

This has always been my mentality. This being said, when we meet, you may think that I don’t talk much, but that’s not the truth. I love to talk about things that matter, but no, I don’t have much time to talk about things that don’t matter. There’s a huge difference there. That’s my respect for time, my work ethic, and my level of focus that comes through in my conversations. It’s nothing against anyone, but doing this does help protect my time, my sanity, and my thoughts. I can tend to think about conversations well after they are over, and I prefer not to be overthinking picture frames, weather, and anything else I don’t care to know more about. (I know a lot about three or four things, and choose to ignore the rest.) Maybe this is the wrong mentality to have, but it’s mine, and there’s a positive that I’ve been able to see from thinking this way: I would say that this is the biggest factor in the many relationships I’ve been able to create over the years. I want to ask questions, talk to people about their lives, and find out what makes them tick and what doesn’t. But I don’t usually have time to talk to them about their favorite type of picture frame, because I’m into discovering what truly matters. To tell you the truth, I think this started with my grandfather and my teachers in school telling me to only speak if I had something important to say, and that mentality has stuck with me.

But I’ve noticed something very important about being this way: When I speak, people listen. But the other important factor in this is that when I’m not speaking, I’m listening. Now, you don’t have to take my word for how important it is to speak less and listen more instead; here are a few quotes from people who found this idea to be true in their own lives:

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” — Karl A. Menniger

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” — Plato

“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking. — Bernard Baruch”


Originally published at asmithblog.com.