Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Listening, not talking

When you talk you are only repeating what you already know. But when you listen you may learn something new.

Dalai Lama

As an introvert, this quote particularly appeals to me. It should be relevant to everyone, though.

One thing that I’m conscious of as a parent is the importance of encouraging my children to find the right balance between talking and listening – one mouth versus two ears, and so on – and to realise that any interaction with another person is an opportunity to learn something new or gain an alternative perspective on a familiar subject.

Put another way, you can speak a thousand words and you will be none the wiser for it. Or you can learn a lifetime’s worth of lessons with just five words: What? Why? When? Where? How?

It’s a skill that all the wisest people have in common: knowing when to stop talking and to just observe and listen to the world around us. The best business leaders do this: they surround themselves with good people and listen to them and to customers. So do the most forward-thinking scientists: they use experimentation and observation to formulate theories from data. And the smartest children are often the ones who quietly listen and then ask searching questions.

I want my children to appreciate the value of listening. And the first step in doing that is by learning to listen to them too.

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