We Have Two Ears & One Mouth
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
Listening is crucial to almost every aspect of our lives, especially when we want to have meaningful conversations. Elaine Ezekiel of Atomic Object understands this intimately as she found that through listening, she’s not only able to ask thoughtful questions, but it gave her the courage to do something a lot of us don’t - ask the follow-up question.
“We’re taught that it’s rude to ask the next follow-up question because we could find ourselves crossing the boundary.”
Ultimately, the goal of conversation requires us to enter a space of vulnerability and we can’t do that unless we’re willing to find the courage to put ourselves in the uncomfortable position of asking follow-up questions. Of course, through active listening we can learn to ask better follow-up question.
If you were to ask Elaine, she’d tell you that conversation isn’t a natural skill, but she had to go beyond her own sense of self-doubt and insecurities because she had a job to do as a journalist - to tell the story.
“As a journalist, you act on behalf of your audience.”
This is a great way to think about active listening; to see it as a way for us to interpret what another individual is saying, so we can share their story with others who are interested in hearing it. Knowing that we are responsible to do this makes us aware of the power of listening and how we owe it to the individuals who take the time to speak with us to share their stories appropriately.
“It’s a gift to give someone the space to talk about themself.”
And how does one listen active and find the follow-up questions to ask? According to Elaine, it’s through a genuine sense of curiosity.
“Through journalism, I learned to lead through my sense of curiosity rather than my self-consciousness.”
I really like this idea - that at the end of the day, our goal is to be genuinely curious about what someone else has to say. To listen curiously as to what they’re saying, the words they’re choosing, and even those they aren’t. Because when we’re showing we’re curious about what others have to say, we’re putting our two ears to good use.
ENGAGEMENT OF THE DAY
During your next conversation, imagine you’re a journalist writing a story about the person you’re talking to. Ask a question that you believe your audience wants to you to ask.
ENJOY LOST ART OF CONVERSATION?
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