For a while now I’ve been focused on improving my listening skills. I have been working hard at speaking last in conversations, meetings, or in social groups. I am consciously focusing on slowing my mind down so that it is not racing to find the next counter point, bouncing around from topic to topic, and being mindful of the others involved. As I get better at this, I’m realizing how much I do not know about a lot of things! I’m finding I really enjoy learning about and from others, their experiences in travel, work, and relationships.
Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, wiser or heaven forbid more mature, but being “right” in conversations has become a lot less important. I think back to all the points I had in my life where the purpose of conversations was not to learn and grow but to prove the other person wrong. Interestingly, even if I accomplished that goal, I generally did not leave feeling better about being right. Knowing what I know now, I believe that was caused by all the effort it took to gather the thoughts and energy I needed to prove someone else wrong instead of truly listening.
Now, I find myself going into conversations hoping maybe I was wrong about something. I am open to hearing opinions, thoughts, and ideas that before I would have dismissed. More importantly I’m excited to not know everything or anything about a lot of things. I am surrounded by people who have done so many things I haven’t yet or quite honestly, I’m incapable of doing. So why wouldn’t I want to learn from everyone around me?
I am finding this is producing much more meaningful conversations with my friends and family. It’s also opening doors to conversations with people I’ve yet to meet!