Have you ever been in a meeting and everyone is talking over each other? Have you ever been in a conversation and noticed that you stopped listening and were formatting your response while not really knowing what you were responding to?
I know that I’ve been in that position more than once. There have been times in my life where I’ve decided I had to be the smartest person in the room. I had to have a response before the other person stopped speaking so I would stop listening and start putting together my comments after only three words.
I don’t know about the rest of the world, but in the US we have a bad habit of not listening. Watch any of the cable news shows and it’s one person shouting over another. Most of the time the host doesn’t even let the guest get three words out before they start talking over them. Are you listening Chris Matthews and Bill O’Reilly?
This brings me to the concept of the talking stick. It’s an old Native American custom where when people are in a circle and discussing an issue only the person with the talking stick has the right to speak. Several things happen when we use a talking stick in our conversation:
- We can just listen. There’s no need to think about what we’re going to say because we’re not going to be able to speak until we get the talking stick.
- We get to wait our turn. Too often we want to talk over those who are speaking. We don’t want to let others get a turn we just want to spew our opinion.
- A talking stick can slow down conversation. Conversation is not just talking it’s also thinking and listening.
- We might learn something. When we spend all of our time thinking about what we’re going to say next we’re not listening. If we’re not listening then there is no chance that we’re going to learn anything.
- We might find some new respect for people we associate with. When we really listen to others we have a chance of finding out something about them that’s really cool. This might help us gain some respect for who they are and what they think.
I’ve spent too much time in my life trying to be too smart. For me the concept of a talking stick is one I like. What about you? Do you think you could gain some insights into life if you spent more time listening?
We’ve put together a special report on the 7 Myths of the Private Business Owner. One of the issues with talking and not listening is we often have false expectations or assumptions about others. This report talks about seven false beliefs I see others have about business owners. To get this report, click on the button below.