Knowing When to Talk and When to Listen

“If you are in a place where you are more powerful than the people around you, learn to listen as much as you talk. And if you’re less powerful, make sure to talk as much as you listen.” — Gloria Steinem

There is such an art to both listening and talking. I know we all think we have the art of talking down, or could name a few folks that we believe definitely have the knack, but I disagree.

You cannot be a good talker without being a good listener.

I have had the gift of gab since I can remember and I cannot even begin to tell you the trouble I’ve gotten myself into, the things I’ve missed out on and the negative side effects of having such a *gift*. It has taken me years to not only recognize that my so-called gift was hindering me, but to realize that if I treated it with balance and respect and to also understand that it had a lot to teach me, I could harness that energy for the power of good.

I still, all the time, catch myself letting loose and having to reel myself back and remind myself that listening can be way more informative than talking. Trust me…it’s not easy and I am often laying in bed at night thinking “Did I talk too much (again) tonight??”

Then I heard the quote above from Gloria Steinem and it really hit home for me as a surefire way to size up a situation and figure out if I should be the one talking or the one listening. This little gem has helped me to size up situations when it’s appropriate to chat away and also situations when it’s definitely to my benefit, and to the other people around me, to simply listen.

Because of this, I have also honed my skill of zoning in on who respects the art of conversation and who does not. Can I just tell you how incredibly freeing this has been for me?? Gone are the days of total frustration and irritation that accompanies those people that are simply awful at conversing with graciousness. You know them: the ones that have the short attention spans? You realize 6 sentences in that they stopped listening to you by sentence 3? Or the people that simply cannot for the life of them resist interrupting you and hijacking what you were just talking about because they just cannot standto have the conversation be about anyone else but them? What about the folks that allow you to finish your thought, but then switch the topic as if you’ve never even spoken, never even acknowledging what you were just talking about? Now I easily switch it off and just relax into the conversation knowing full well that my role is one of listening. Not only has this helped me to become less aggravated, but it has also helped me to identify the friends and family that deserve my verbal thoughts, that respect my time to speak and appreciate my input. Nothing worse than wasting a dream, an exciting idea or a hurtful or painful experience with someone that simply is not listening.

Truth be told, I am quite sure I am all of these frustrating conversationalists a lot more than I think, but I am at least at a point where I am starting to focus more time and energy into understanding what my role is in each situation.

The art of listening is on my goal list for 2019. If you see me out, not talking, that’s just me goaling.




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Elizabeth Craig

Photographer, Reiki Practitioner, wanderer, ponderer, lover of writing.