What Happens When You Listen More And Talk Less
People love to talk. If you ever attempt the exercise of not speaking for one full day, you’ll find that it is very, very difficult. The difficulty expands beyond the fact that you can’t simply ask someone for a glass of water or directions. There’s the added struggle of keeping your mouth shut when you just want to give your two cents on a matter, offer advice, or even spread gossip. People can focus a lot on imparting words and information onto others. For some reason, we think it elevates our status or makes us seem smarter to say a lot. The truth is that, saying less can actually be what makes us stronger. I made a point in recent years to become a better listener and it changed my life. It changed a lot of my relationships. It made me more diplomatic in relationships. It even caused me to walk away from some. Here is what happens when you listen more and talk less.
People open up more
First off, people open up to you more. When people don’t fear that, at any moment, you’ll interrupt or make the conversation about you, they share more personal details.
You learn who is self-involved
Some people will take advantage of the fact that you’re a good listener. You’ll quickly notice that some of your friends never ask you one question. They’ll talk for hours without asking you about yourself if you let them.
You learn if you were self-involved
You also quickly realize if you used to be like that self-involved person I just mentioned. It’s embarrassing, but it’s better to recognize it sooner rather than later.
You hear people’s struggles
If you let people talk for a while, without interruption, you may learn of some ongoing struggles they’ve been dealing with, about which you knew nothing about. You didn’t know because…you never asked. Nor did you let them talk long enough to share that part of their life. You’ll become far more compassionate if you listen more.
Friends reach out more
Friends will reach out to you more when they’re going through something tough. In the past, friends may have only reached out when things were going well, feeling that they couldn’t rely on you to just listen when they were having a hard time.
You gather enough information
Think of all the times you spoke too soon. You charged into a discussion, aggressively certain about your opinion, only to gather more information later that made your opinion look silly.
You navigate personalities better
Listening more and remaining silent in group settings helps you observe and analyze various personality types. You understand people better by watching them interact with others than by engaging in conversation with them.
You learn whom you can trust
You pick up on patterns in others—perhaps patterns like gossip, envy, or manipulation. You may not have realized that some people with whom you surround yourself have those traits—you were too busy talking.
Arguments pass quicker
It’s amazing how much quicker arguments go by if you just listen more. Allowing someone to speak his peace—the whole way—without interrupting to defend yourself, lets you gather all the information you need before responding. It may even show you that there’s nothing to say other than, “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “You’re right.” Or, it may show you you’re dealing with someone unreasonable, and you won’t waste energy on this discussion.
You understand motives
You get to learn peoples’ motives more—what makes them tick, what makes them feel safe, what makes them feel insecure, and what they really want. That makes every interaction, from social to professional, much easier. You may learn that, for your boss, it isn’t about the office appliances being perfectly organized—it’s about feeling respected in her office.
You’re a confidante to the shy
Shy individuals—those who are often bulldozed in conversation—turn to you more. You’re the only person patient and quiet enough to let them talk, without walking all over them.
And a therapist to the troubled
You may also become a therapist to the troubled. People who really need therapy might start relying on you to an unhealthy degree. Watch out for that. It happens quickly to good listeners.
You gain power
The more you listen, the more knowledge you have, and the more knowledge you have, the more powerful you are. You think of solutions and make complicated connections quicker.
You seem wiser
You just seem wiser to everyone else around you. Think about it: who seems the wiser in a crowded room? The people talking loudly, arguing, and sharing gossip, or the quiet individual observing it all?
Your opinion is valued
Because you seem wiser, and actually are wiser for all your listening, people value your opinion more. People ask what’s on your mind more now, than when you were talkative.