Less Speech, More Si­lence

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

Asked why he was so miserly with words, a wise man replied, “The Cre­ator of the world has given man two ears, but just one tongue. This is so that we may lis­ten more than we speak.” Lis­ten­ing more, we in­crease our knowl­edge, have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the other per­son’s viewpoint, pre­pare what we wish to say and en­cour­age in the speaker a greater re­cep­tiv­ity to what we wish to say when fi­nally it is our turn to hold forth.

When we speak, it is not gen­er­ally suf­fi­cient just to ut­ter the truth. We have to be able to talk per­sua­sively if our lis­ten­ers are to be con­vinced. This is where our hav­ing lis­tened care­fully is an ad­van­tage. We get to know in ad­vance what mis­ap­pre­hen­sions we have to sweep aside, what il­lu­sions we have to dis­pel and what emo­tional bar­ri­ers we have to break down.

If we speak with­out ever lis­ten­ing to oth­ers, we shall al­ways find our­selves in a weak, un­cer­tain and ill-in­formed po­si­tion. Some­times we voice opin­ions that are not well sup­ported by facts. We can save our­selves em­bar­rass­ment by first hear­ing the sub­ject dis­cussed from dif­fer­ent an­gles by dif­fer­ent speak­ers. The propen­sity to talk too much is of­ten a sign of want­ing to sing one’s own praises than of get­ting to the mat­ter, and shows a lack of se­ri­ous­ness to­wards oth­ers.

The prac­tice of lis­ten­ing more than speak­ing is not just the ex­ter­nal ex­pres­sion of one iso­lated per­son­al­ity trait; rather, it re­flects a whole state of mind. In­dica­tive of sin­cer­ity and hu­mil­ity, it is the essence of a fine char­ac­ter.

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