“I Prefer Listening”

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been criticized for not asking questions during oral arguments.  His response is "…in law school, I could learn better just listening," as quoted in USA Today.  He further stated in the interview, "I think there are far too many questions (in oral arguments). I prefer to listen and think it through more quietly." 

This is good advice for all of us. I find that people have better human relations when they spend more time listening than talking. That begins with just being silent. In fact, the letters that spell silent are the same letters that spell listen; they are just arranged in a different order. People are sometimes startled by this idea when I point it out in my Power Listening seminar. An effective way of listening is silence, but you must arrange your thoughts differently to concentrate on the message instead of retreating into your own little thought world. 

Keep track of your talk time versus your listening time in the course of a day. You might be surprised that you learn more by "…thinking it through quietly." 

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at steveboyd111@gmail.com.

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