Practical Philosophy

Just listen

Active listening is being 100% focused on to what your conversation partner is saying.

The biggest challenge is “calming our inner schizophrenic”. This is our tendency to think about what to say next. It is our mind wandering, thinking of a new topic or preparing a clever answer. In either case, it’s us, talking to ourselves, rather than listening to what the other person is saying.

Active listening is to drop all of our cares about “what to say next”, and to just focus 100% on what your partner is talking about. When you feel your mind wandering, be mindful of it, and bring your attention back on what your conversation partner is talking about. Just listen.

When you just listen, you get more out of your conversations. First, your brain is primed to learn what the person is talking about. When we passively listen, we tend to forget it quickly.

Second, your conversations will get way deeper, and way more interesting. You will pick up on ideas beyond the surface level. You will discover underlying emotions, motivations and connections to other ideas you may have.

Third, you will build rapport. A good conversation partner listens to what you have to say. This is why active listening is the first phase in any negotation. You need to build rapport and trust before you can begin to influence behaviour.

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