According to the late, great guitar god, Jimi Hendrix, Knowledge Speaks, Wisdom Listens. And on that note…
Welcome to Episode 22 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the topsy/turvy world of creativity.
My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and no matter what end of the creative world you work in, I’m here to tell you to shut up! In a nice way, of course.
Now if you’re a regular listener of Navigating the Fustercluck, you know that I never shut up. I talk…And talk, and talk and talk… So please get past my hypocrisy. And I thank you immensely for once again hearing me out.
There are lots of people telling you how to talk. How to present. Hell, I’ve done it in multiple episodes. Today, however, I’m recalling this powerful, old adage: Silence is golden. And all we have to do is listen more. Yet for most of us, that’s asking a lot. Quite a lot.
Listening & Understanding
Fact is, for the most part, we do Not listen to understand, we listen only to reply.
To be heard. To impress upon others our ideas, instead of aiming for a mutual exchange of ideas.
As Charles Varlet, the Marquis de La Grange, put it…
When We Ask Advice We Are Usually Looking for an Accomplice.
That’s right, we’re looking for converts, not conversation, anxious for the other person to yield the floor.
As writer Fran Lebowitz puts it…
The Opposite of Talking Is Not Listening. The Opposite of Talking is Waiting.
And she’s right. We forget that conversation is not a competition, it’s a collaboration. A team sport in many ways.
When put that way, wouldn’t we all be better served if we set aside our natural self-centeredness to follow the words of Stephen Covey?
Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood.
Makes sense, right? Still, it’s hard. And it’s not hard to understand that either.
Most of us struggle to be heard. To have our ideas given a fair chance.
Perhaps we are so coiled up to talk because we need validation.
Because we so rarely receive praise.
Because it’s so infrequent that people listen to us.
That may explain why we’re so much more focused on talking than listening.
I get it. All that considered, think of this sage old adage that my friends’ 107-year-old grandmother, Mildred “Fern” Puterbaugh used to say:
If you want a friend, be a friend.
Then ply that to what we’re focusing on here:
Isn’t it true? If you want to be heard, you have to listen?
Yes, we should listen out of basic respect for others.
And practically speaking, listening will free the way for better conversations.
Where everyone shares more and learns more from one another. For when You listen, you may learn something new.
Or as spiritual guru Ram Dass so eloquently states…
The Quieter You Become, the More You Can Hear.
One way that I’ve become a better listener is to pause when others pause. Not jumping in at the first opening. Hearing someone out fully and completely.
Another way is to make a point to ask a question after someone speaks. To clarify. To learn more. And after hearing their full response, I often forget what I was going to say. Because what I just heard was more interesting. Or what I had to say wasn’t that important.
This Brings Us to Meetings…
Because of the avalanche of meetings that we’re all invited to, and dread, we get the idea that, well, we better talk!
First things first, get out of those meetings where you don’t feel that you can add much. It’s a waste of productivity. Unfortunately, once you’re there, you probably feel that you have to be heard or people will question your value. So you talk even when you have nothing to say.
Right before you do, try to keep in mind the words of Abraham Lincoln:
Better to Remain Silent and Be Thought a Fool, Than to Speak and Remove All Doubt. – Abraham Lincoln
Ahhh…if only we all would live the wisdom of this Arabic proverb:
Open Your Mouth Only if What You’re About to Say is More Beautiful Than Silence.
According to Time Magazine, women tend to be more cautious with speaking up at meetings. They’re caught in a double bind. If they talk in ways associated with authority, they can be seen as too aggressive, and subject to the damning labels so readily applied to them. But if they don’t, — if they hold back in these and other ways—they risk being underestimated. Let’s all encourage everyone to speak their mind, or we risk stifling some important thoughts.
And as a short sidebar… Admit When You’re Wrong. Shut Up When You’re Right.
Let’s Take a Short Breather… (EXHALE.)
…We’re here at Deaf Mule Studios to remind everyone that this is Navigating the Fustercluck. And I’m Wegs, your resident cheesehead host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the show for one final thought:
In a world where it’s growing harder and harder to distinguish the signal from the noise, we don’t even listen to ourselves anymore.
We allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the big talkers. The loud talkers. The know-it-alls, the big mouths and the bloviators.
Listen to many different voices, but never forget to listen to your own voice.
Learn to trust yourself, even when you’re feeling some doubt. Whether you have to fake it until you make it, or take more time to understand a challenge, hang in there. And listen to yourself. No one knows you better.
Well, that about wraps up our 22nd episode of Navigating the Fustercluck.
Here from Deaf Mule Studios, I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, thank you for listening in. Until next time, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF or NavigatingTheFustercluck.com. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best to make things better. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future. And now, just to prove that silence is golden, I’ll hit mute.