Did you ever notice that LISTEN and SILENT are spelled with the same letters—something to think about. Most of us don’t listen well. Listening is not a skill our society values. We’re taught to talk, not listen.
But you don’t learn by talking, you learn by listening. When you listen, you might hear something that shifts your perspective, sparks an ah-ha moment, reveals an opportunity, or illuminates a hidden challenge. Listening amplifies voices who aren’t often heard but have information you need to know. Listening connects you with insight you can apply to content, education, membership benefit, and program decisions—and listening connects you with other people.
Why we can’t sit still and be quiet
How often do we keep our mouths shut and listen? Not often enough, speaking from personal experience. Why do we feel compelled to get a word in? Three reasons come to mind.
Sometimes we want to show off what we know, give our take, or prove we have equal standing—it’s a quest for validation.
Sometimes we butt in because we want to let the other person know we understand or agree. We want to validate what they’re saying. We’re trying to show empathy or compassion—at least, that’s a better reason than the first.
And sometimes we want to jump in and solve their problem, which might be a combo of showing off and empathy.